Managing Stress and Social Ties for Health Aging
There has been a dramatic rise from 46% to 59% in the percentage of households with only 1-2 people from 1970 to 2000. A 40% increase in the number of people living alone is projected for 2010. Social isolation is consistently one of the strongest predictors mortality in older adults. Recent research is demonstrating that stress plays an important role linking social isolation with poor health. Socially isolated older adults are more likely to feel chronically stressed and overwhelmed with everyday life demands. Furthermore, isolated adults respond to stress differently, both psychologically and physiologically. Socially isolated and lonely older adults show long-term elevations in "inflammatory cytokines", which are signaling molecules related by immune cells. These Inflammatory cytokines play a role in a number of age-related diseases including cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes and arthritis. Novel, readily useable interventions aimed at decreasing isolation and "re-calibrating" stress responses might be helpful to older adults.
Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese form of calisthenics that promotes relaxation and decreases feelings of stress and as such, it may be a useful intervention for socially isolated, stressed older adults. However, its effects on stress responses are unknown. Tai Chi Chih (TCC) is a simplified, manualized, readily exportable form of Tai Chi particularly well-suited for older adults. This proposed study will test the effects of a TCC intervention with socially isolated older adults on loneliness, stress and health outcomes, including inflammatory assessment. Tai Chi-naïve participants who perceive themselves as socially isolated, as measured by the UCLA Loneliness Scale will be randomized to receive either Tai Chi or education control for a 12-week period. Subjects will undergo pre- and post-intervention stress assessment, including exposure to a psychological stress task, to assess whether Tai Chi affects how subjects physiologically and psychologically respond to stress.
|Study Design:||Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Factorial Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Treatment
|Official Title:||Managing Stress and Social Ties for Health Aging|
- Perceived Stress [ Time Frame: 4-8 months ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
- Autonomic Activity and inflammatory signalling [ Time Frame: 4-8 months ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]
|Study Start Date:||May 2008|
|Study Completion Date:||August 2010|
|Primary Completion Date:||August 2010 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)|
Experimental: Tai Chi Chih
12 weeks of physical exercise in the form of Tai Chi Chih
Behavioral: Tai Chi Chih
12 weeks of weekly classes of Tai Chi Chih
Active Comparator: Stress Education Control
Stress management education
Behavioral: Stress Education Control
Weekly meetings, for 2 hours for 12 weeks discussing issues related to stress education.