Study Reveals a Busy Social Life for Seniors May Stave Off Disability

The study from Rush University in Chicago looked at 954 elderly people, average age 82, who had no type of disability at the start of the study period. The participants underwent yearly physical and mental evaluations and provided information about their social activities, such as going out to eat, playing bingo, doing volunteer work, taking day or overnight trips, and participating in community groups.

Compared to people with low levels of social activity, people who had high levels of social activity were about twice as likely to remain free of disabilities that hindered activities of daily living (such as feeding, bathing, dressing, using the toilet) and about 1.5 times more likely to remain free of disabilities that affected mobility or instrumental activities of daily living (for example, using the telephone, preparing meals and managing medications), the investigators found.

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