Senior citizens jubilant after a good house
cleaning, so the research shows
Keeping their homes maintained more important
physically, mentally than where they live, what they own
16, 2015 - Senior citizens who keep a clean and orderly home tend to
feel emotionally and physically better after tackling house chores. The
reason for this jubilance is the exercise it takes to get the job done,
according to new findings by a Case Western Reserve University school of
"House cleaning kept them up and moving," said
Kathy D. Wright, PhD, RN, CNS, a postdoctoral KL2 Scholar at the
university's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. "A clean
environment is therapeutic."
Wright and a research team set out to test a theory
called House's Conceptual Framework for Understanding Social
Inequalities in Health and Aging. It's considered a blueprint for
understanding how factors such as income, education, environment and
health behaviors, like smoking and exercise, influence an older person's
The study's 337 participants, from 65 to 94 years
old, had to have at least one chronic illness, be enrolled in both
Medicare and Medicaid, have physical restrictions that prevented them
from doing at least one basic daily task, such as bathing and dressing,
and be unable to manage such responsibilities as taking medicines,
handling finances or accessing transportation. All lived in Ohio's
Summit and Portage counties.
They discussed their backgrounds and physical and
emotional well-being in interviews. The researchers then used the
University of Utah's Digit Lab, where Wright earned her doctorate degree
while working for the Summa Health System, to link geographic and
socioeconomic information on the neighborhoods with health data.
Wright said she was surprised to learn that
housework and maintaining their property affected the participants'
physical and mental well-being more than such factors as neighborhood or
"What I found was that neighborhood poverty did not
directly affect mental or physical health," she said.
The study provided evidence that Wright had
observed in her visits: people living in a chaotic environment seemed
less satisfied than those in a place that was neat and tidy.
Wright hopes the study shows how important it is
for sedentary older adults with disabilities and chronic illnesses to
continue physical activities, such as doing reaching exercises while
sitting, arm curls and standing up and sitting down in a chair.
Wright and her team's findings were reported in the
recent Geriatric Nursing article, "Factors that Influence physical
function and emotional well-being among Medicare-Medicaid enrollees."
Also contributing to this study
were Ginette A. Pepper, PhD, RN, FAAN; Michael Caserta, PhD; Bob Wong,
PhD; and Cherie P. Brunker, MD, CMD, FACP (the University of Utah);
Diana L. Morris, PhD, RN, FAAN, and Christopher J. Burant, PhD, MACTM
(Case Western Reserve); Susan Hazelett, MS, RN, (Summa Health System);
Denise Kropp, BS, CCRP (Northeast Ohio Medical University); and Kyle R.
Allen, DO, AGSF (Riverside Health System Lifelong Health and Aging
Related Services Administration).
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