Elderly volunteers benefit from activity

June 27, 2006 at 2:21 PM
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BALTIMORE, June 27 (UPI) -- U.S. senior citizens might enjoy life more if they spent more time with young children in the classroom, a study finds.

"Volunteering in a grade school may not seem immediately appealing to older Americans," said study leader Erwin Tan, assistant professor of geriatrics at the Johns Hopkins University. "But honestly, our volunteers say it's an enriching experience, and, it turns out, it may be good for you."

In a study of 113 men and women age 60 and older, the researchers investigated the subjects' physical health as it related to their activity levels. Fifty-nine were involved in the Experience Corps Baltimore, a volunteer program designed at Johns Hopkins' Center for Aging that places elderly volunteers in kindergarten and grammar-school classrooms to be mentors and tutors for 15 hours a week. The other 54 individuals were not enrolled in any volunteer work and served as a control group.

Volunteering resulted in increased physical and mental activity and the seniors' becoming more active at home when doing household chores, gardening and home maintenance activities, according to the study published in the Journal of Urban Health.

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