ELMA - Maintaining vocational capacity and motivation of an ageing workforce (2007-2010)

Primary Investigator: Prof. Dr. Andreas Kruse

Project Team: Christina Ding-Greiner, MD,

Project Description

The aim of the project, which is funded by the Robert Bosch Foundation, is to change the image of old age and to promote the capacity of an ageing workforce in companies and factories. The project is designed as an intervention-study and is characterised by the following four components:

1.    Promoting physical capacity
2.    Promoting cognitive capacity
3.    Promoting knowledge about health and healthy lifestyle
4.    Promoting a more sophisticated image of old age in companies

The study has a pre-post design with an intervention group and a control group. At the beginning of the intervention period, which lasts for 6 months, the participants were required to undergo an extensive number of cognitive, medical and sports tests in order to obtain an individual profile of their physical and cognitive fitness as well as of any existing medical conditions (measuring physiological and biochemical parameters). 

All of these tests were repeated at the end of the intervention period, and again three months after the end of the second test, to explore the long-term sustainability of the effects of the study.

At present the post-tests in both groups have been completed and the second post-test of the intervention group is scheduled to take place in September 2008.

The intervention consists of different kinds of information, discussions and strategies. The cognitive part consists of training exercises of thinking, attention, learning and memory. The sports part is made up of training of endurance, flexibility and relaxation. The medical information is characterised by communication of knowledge about human health and a healthy lifestyle.

There is a huge extent of correlation between the cognitive parts of the training (e.g. adaptability, concentration, and attention) and the typical requirements needed for working as a technician or engineer, as shown by both empirical and theoretical studies. Regarding prevention studies, the training of physical abilities (flexibility, coordination, and strength) is also extremely important for the physical capacity and well-being of employees.

As an interim outcome of the project so far, there have been highly significant improvements found in terms of the major factors governing intelligence and in attention and memory performance. Furthermore there are highly significant changes regarding the physical parameters of the study.

The positive changes regarding intelligence were mainly found in the following abilities:
Ability to memorise, speed of perception, spatial awareness and imagination, working memory, inductive reasoning.

The physical parameters that showed positive changes are: Strength, coordination, and balance.

The majority of the participants had greater knowledge about health at the end of the intervention period. Most of them also reported having a healthier lifestyle than at the beginning of the study.

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Latest Revision: 2012-10-26
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