While being busy seems to be a natural state for most people in the modern world, for the elderly it can literally be a life-saver. Numerous studies have shown that when the elderly take part in activities, they benefit both physically and psychologically. Activity can be tied to measurable increases in life expectancy.
Social Activity Prolongs Life
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, productive and socially active people in the latter stages of life live significantly longer than those who are not involved in such activities. More than 2,700 Americans age 65 and older were involved in the study, which showed that social activity contributes as much to the prolonging of life as physical fitness.
Activity and Self-Worth
As people get older and their bodies decline, they sometimes feel a sense of worthlessness. They are no longer able to do the jobs they could once do easily, and can't help others the way they used to. Getting involved in activities helps the elderly mingle with others. They can offer moral support to friends, or help those who are more disabled than they are. If they are participating in physical or mental activities, they can feel a sense of accomplishment when completing the activity. This promotes a sense of self-worth.
Preservation of Independence
As the body and the brain begin to decline, activities for the elderly can help them exercise their physical and cognitive skills so they can maximise their independence. Puzzles help connect the neurons in the brain, and other activities such as scrapbooking and games help the elderly with memory recall. The more alert elderly people are, and the more they can do things for themselves, the more likely they are to remain independent.
Activities that involve social interactions for the elderly are more important than one might think. A report from Archives of Internal Medicine cites that when the elderly lose interest in socialising, their motor skills decline rapidly, leading to numerous problems which cause disability and even death. According to researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago who conducted the study, a one-point decrease in an elderly person's social activity resulted in a 33 per cent faster decline in motor skills, as compared with those who kept up their socialisation.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Social activities lengthen life in elderly Americans by the British Medical Journal
- SeniorJournal.com: When Seniors Lose Interest in Going Out, the Motor Skills that Took Them Decline Rapidly
- Elderly Health Service: Benefits of activities for the person with dementia