Volunteering Prevents Frailty in Elderly
A recent UCLA study has found that volunteering, more than other productive activities, can prevent the onset of frailty in the elderly.
Frailty is a geriatric condition marked by weight loss, low physical activity and low energy and strength. UCLA researchers followed 1,072 healthy adults aged 70 to 79 between 1988 and 1991 to determine if productive activities--volunteering, child care and paid work--prevent frailty.
At the beginning of the study, 28 percent of participants volunteered, 25 percent performed child care duties and 19 percent worked for pay. After three years, participants in all three activities were found to be less likely to become frail. After accounting for levels of physical and cognitive function, however, only volunteering was associated with lower rates of frailty.
A randomized trial is needed to determine whether volunteering itself prevents the onset of frailty, or if there is something about the types of people who volunteer regularly that keeps them from becoming frail.