Summary
The elderly quite often face the threat of illness and the corresponding loss of independence. It has been shown that equipping them with better lifestyle options (lifestyle intervention) helps to improve the quality of their life. In the present study, the effectiveness of a new lifestyle intervention known as Lifestyle Redesign® was tested. The researchers also evaluated the financial burden of these interventions on aged people. The study states, “A lifestyle-oriented occupational therapy intervention promotes elder’s mental well-being across community-based settings in a cost-effective manner.”

Introduction
Old age is generally associated with overall reduction in physical and mental health and the capacity to work. This decline in health and working capacity can be minimized by adopting certain lifestyle changes. The “University of Southern California Well Elderly 2 Study” was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of an intervention that involved teaching elderly people about energy conservation, protection of joints, physical and mental exercises, use of proper transportation facility, and home safety. It also involved making them aware of fall prevention, coping with grief, coping with cultural changes, developing new goals for life, regular evaluation of work, etc. Although earlier studies have been performed to test the success of the intervention, this study was unique because it tested the effectiveness under complex (close to real life) situations in culturally diverse groups and checked for its economic feasibility.

Methodology

  • This study recruited 460 participants of different ethnicities, aged between 60 and 95 years from 21 sites in California.
  • Initially, the physical health, mental well-being, and cognition (immediate and late recall and recognition capacity) were assessed with the help of questionnaires. Then, the participants were divided into two groups. The first group containing 232 participants underwent lifestyle modification training by licensed occupational therapists, while the second group of 228 was considered as controls.
  • Lifestyle modification was continued for six months and again health and cognitive parameters were assessed in both the groups and compared.
  • Later, the control group also underwent lifestyle modification for six months and again health and cognitive parameters were measured.
  • Based on each participant’s salary, the cost of this intervention was evaluated.

Results

  • At the baseline, no differences were found between the intervention and control groups.
  • Lifestyle modification training significantly improved the perceived physical and mental health. There was not much change in the cognitive capacity between two groups.
  • Significant improvement was observed in the control group that underwent six-month training.
  • For each participant, the cost of the six-month intervention was about $780. This was considered cost-effective.

Shortcomings/Next steps
Among the participants who were assigned to the intervention group, 17 percent of the individuals did not attend the intervention sessions. Thus, to get results that are more accurate, it is suggested that only those participants who have a “readiness to change” be included in the project. There is also a need to assess the cost-effectiveness of these interventions in people who are admitted in nursing homes and those who reside in rural areas. Future research should highlight the facets of lifestyle that can be changed for better results. It should also improve the protocol of lifestyle modification in a way such that the elderly population’s cognitive capacity is also dealt with.

Conclusion
This study examined the effectiveness of lifestyle change intervention “when (1) applied to a sample of older people at high risk for experiencing health disparities, (2) delivered within a six-month time interval and (3) implemented in various community settings.” “Overall, this trial demonstrated that a six-month preventive lifestyle-oriented-intervention has positive effects for a sample of ethnically diverse older people recruited from a variety of community sites.” A lot of money is spent for the treatment of elderly people who are ill. Spending very little money toward training the elderly regarding lifestyle modification would save the money spent on treatment and prevent their suffering. Hence, there is a need to implement these interventions on a large scale.

For More Information:

Effectiveness of a Lifestyle Intervention in Promoting the Well-Being of Independently Living Older People
Publication Journal: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, June 2011
By Florence Clark; Jeanne Jackson
From the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.

 



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