Sunday, November 04, 2012

Volunteering and Youth Engagement Helps Elderly



Isolating oneself from life and social activities as you grow older is a common phenomenon worldwide. Due to various reason, as one gets older, they at times can draw away from family, friends, children, society, hobbies, happiness etc. and go into a mode of silence and thinking.
However, a recent study conducted by researchers at the prestigious John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, have proven that volunteering can help improve the aging process in a positive way. By using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) technology, researchers have found that when the elderly engage in more social activities like tutoring children, social get together, mentoring, social service programs, volunteering with kids, it helps keep the brain active, healthy and agile for a longer period as compared to those elderly that do not volunteer.
The study was conducted in association with Experience Corps on 17 women aged 65 or older.Experience Corps is a national volunteer service organization conducting regular programs to engage elder community to help urban children in their studies.
In the US, the population moving towards retirement age is roughly 78 million while the average life expectancy rate increasing.
Per the research, such activities engaging older adults with children or with people needing volunteer services increased older people cognitive and physical abilities. As per the statement given by the associate professor working in the department of Mental Health and Center on Aging and Health in Bloomberg School of Public Health, “We found that participating in Experience Corps resulted in improvements in cognitive functioning and this was associated with significant changes in brain activation patterns.”
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