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Civic engagement keeps aging Americans mentally healthy after physical decline

People who continuously participate in community groups are often spared losses in psychological well-being after developing functional limitations, according to an article published in the latest issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences (Vol. 62B, No. 1).

Individuals who were ongoing members of religious organizations in particular showed higher levels of personal growth than those who were not. The research also found lesser hikes in depressive symptoms among men steadily involved in recreational associations, such as hobby or discussion groups.

Authors Emily Greenfield and Nadine Marks of the University of Wisconsin-Madison used survey data to track changes in respondents' physical, psychological, and social functioning over a five-year period. Thus, they were able to observe whether or not those who developed physical impairments also experienced similar declines in mental health.

This study is noteworthy because it shows community participation -- and the subsequent building of psychosocial resources -- to be especially important in the face of aging-related challenges.


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Contact: Todd Kluss
tkluss@geron.org
202-842-1275
The Gerontological Society of America
26-Feb-2007


Page: 1

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