A study performed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that active living seniors who spend time participating in a youth mentoring program actually improved function in the region of their brains that support cognitive activity.
The program utilized in the study, Experience Corps, trains seniors to work with and help students from urban public schools improve their reading skills.
The study asked 17 women over the age of 65 to participate. Half of the volunteers were immediately enrolled in Experience Corps and others were waitlisted for six months. Participants were given a brain scan at the start of the study and the six-month mark. Those who had already begun working with students had improved cognitive functioning and brain-activation patterns.
The discovery of the mutual benefits of programs such as Experience Corps could inspire communities around the country to adopt similar initiatives.
"This study suggests that new kinds of roles for older adults in our aging society can be designed as a win-winfor addressing important societal needs, such as our childrens success, and simultaneously the health and well-being of the older volunteers themselves," Linda P. Fried, the dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, said in a statement.