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Group Interaction Significant for Health Benefits in Elderly

Update Date: Dec 09, 2012 04:27 AM EST

Group interaction among the elderly is the key to significant health outcomes.

A new study emphasizes on the benefits of 'water clubs' in care homes for the elderly.

'Water club' is where members of the care home come together to discuss about the benefits of drinking more water and encourage each other to increase their water intake. Researchers through a new study claim that apart from the benefits of drinking water itself, the fact that it is done in a group, and the social nature of the activity is very beneficial for the residents' wellbeing.

The study adds evidence to previous studies which support that interventions aimed at improving people's wellbeing and quality of life are much more successful when done in groups, which gives them a strong sense of group identity, Medical Xpress reports.

A team of researchers, led by professor Alex Haslam of the University of Exeter, got interested in water clubs and found that members of the club reported enhanced wellbeing, fewer falls and better hydration than those who drank water alone, the report said.

"It is clear from this research and a series of other investigations that we have carried out that when people belong to a group, the sense of 'us-ness' that this creates plays a critically important role in processes of health and wellbeing," Haslam said.

"We refer to this as 'the social cure'," collaborator professor Catherine Haslam said, "and it is far more potent than many of the other treatments that are out there. Whether we are talking about stress, depression, or recovery from stroke, a supportive group life plays a critical role in a person's clinical path."

"Humans are social animals - we have evolved for group life," said Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded researcher professor Jolanda Jetten, co author of the book.

"Groups can boost our wellbeing but, at times, they can also drag us down and be a social curse. Precisely because group life is such an important determinant of health and wellbeing, we need to better understand these processes and dynamics," Jetten concluded.

The findings of this research are published in a book The Social Cure.

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