Community Engagement: Good for the Brain?

A new article finds that community engagement may help prevent memory loss among seniors. While not specifically relating to engagement around local decision making, the research does confirm that, not only are senior citizens a great potential asset to community, community is a great potential asset to seniors:

Carlson notes that many cognitive intervention studies last one year or less. One strength of this study, she says, is that the participants were followed for two years, which in this case was long enough to see changes that wouldn’t have been detected after just one year.

The researchers were particularly interested in the results, considering that people with less education and who live in poverty are at greater risk for cognitive decline.

Carlson says it’s not entirely clear which elements of Experience Corps account for the improved memory function and increased brain volumes. She says the program increases involvement in so many different kinds of activities that retired people may not have engaged in otherwise. Participants need to get out of bed, walk to the bus, and walk up and down stairs inside the schools. They work in teams. They work with young people. They share their knowledge and know they are doing good in the world. They engage in problem solving and they socialize in ways they wouldn’t have if they stayed at home.

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