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AGS: Feeling Useful May Enhance Function in Elderly

Study links feeling useful with improved coordination, balance, gait, and upper and lower limb strength

TUESDAY, May 8 (HealthDay News) -- In older adults, feelings of usefulness are associated with higher levels of physical performance, according to research presented this week at the American Geriatrics Society's annual scientific meeting in Seattle.

Taya C. Varteresian, M.S., of Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Mo., and colleagues assessed feelings of usefulness and physical performance in nearly 900 subjects aged 70 to 79 at baseline, and during a follow-up exam three years later.

The researchers found a positive correlation between feelings of usefulness and higher levels of physical performance, even after adjusting for conditions that adversely affect physical performance. They also found that subjects who felt increasingly useful over time were more likely to experience improvements in coordination, balance, gait, and upper and lower limb strength.

"Previous research with older adults in the MacArthur study has documented that those with low feelings of usefulness are more likely to show increases in physical disability and to die over a seven-year period," Varteresian said in a statement. "Thus, the associations observed between feelings of usefulness and physical performance ability in this study may play a role in these health outcomes."

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