Elderly people often find themselves with too little to do after retiring or watching their children grow up and move away. While many aspects of age-related decline are inevitable, a growing body of scientific evidence shows that staying involved with physical, mental and social activities can help seniors maintain a healthy mind, body and spirit.
Elderly people who remain physically active significantly reduce their risk for cognitive decline, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Physical activities include walking, yoga, gardening, golf, housework and babysitting; anything that keeps a person moving on a regular basis counts. The more active seniors are, the greater the benefit, as long as they are not overexerting themselves. Other leisure activities such as reading, writing, doing puzzles, playing cards, practicing a musical instrument and visiting friends are also closely connected to reduced cognitive decline in older adults.
Regular physical activity reduces incidence of premature death due to chronic diseases such as heart attack, stroke and diabetes. It also helps people maintain bone mass density, which can help prevent osteoporosis. Elderly people who exercise regularly are also more agile and mobile, which can improve quality of life and extend independence long into the golden years. If you are already active, keep it up; think twice before letting well-intentioned caregivers do things for you that you can easily do yourself. If you have been inactive for awhile, talk to your health care provider about ways to increase your activity. Easy ways to add more exercise to your day include using a push mower instead of riding mower, parking your car farther from you destination and walking to pick up the daily paper instead of receiving delivery.
Social activities can help keep older adults engaged in the world and close to other people. Taking part in group activities and social events helps elderly people maintain a sense of meaning and purpose in life, which will boost emotional well-being. A lack of engaging activities and too little contact with others can lead to depression and other negative health effects. Many organisations such as churches, athletic facilities and senior centres offer a wide variety of activities to keep elderly people active and involved in their communities.
Many older people develop sleep disorders as they age. Getting too little sleep can affect mental function, energy levels, mood and immunity. Daily exercise is one way to maintain healthy sleep patterns. Getting enough sleep will help seniors maintain the energy and mood needed to want to engage in other leisure and social activities.