Meaningful Activities Matter
Evidence shows that if a person is engaged in meaningful activity and given mental stimulation, they sleep better, feel less agitated, are less likely to wake up in the night and are even less likely to suffer a fall.
The medical profession is often trialling meaningful activities coordinators in hospitals as this type of personalized care is significantly reducing costs, improving nutritional intake and improving relationships between elderly patients (especially those with dementia) and their care givers.
Meaningful activity should not be underestimated and research has proved that it is associated with a basic psychological need which contributes to meaning in life. It especially shouldn’t be neglected in old age. A sense of purpose – in daily life – improves overall happiness, decreases the chances of depression and is a motivation that drives you towards a satisfying future.
Games which promote mental stimulation such as chess, scrabble, crosswords, sudoku and others all help to prevent or slow the onset of dementia. Brain teasers keep your mind sharp by improving memory and brain processing speed. They also reduce boredom, boost overall brain activity and improve concentration.
As published by the New York Times, research from The University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrated that “participants who engaged in cognitive activities like card games have higher brain volume, in specific regions, compared to peers who played fewer or no games.”
Exercise (particularly aerobic) also keeps the brain young. And the earlier you start the better as it reduces the risk of cognitive ageing. As does a healthy diet. Both preserve brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain which in turn lessons the rate of tissue loss during ageing.
Loving relationships are proven to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease. Hugging your loved ones calms your heartbeat and lowers your blood pressure. Study after study also shows that if you are in a great relationship you live better, for longer.
A study from the University of Pittsburgh, for example, revealed that scientifically, happily married women with a high level of satisfaction in their relationships, when compared with single, widowed or divorced women, had reduced cardiovascular risk profiles.
Social integration and support are linked to a number of health benefits and reduced isolation and having great relationships with friends, family and your spouse supports this process. Positive relationships produce less cortisol which is the stress hormone.
Physical activity leads to a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers (as well as depression and dementia). Exercise slows cell aging. Exercise doesn’t just make you feel younger—it may actually turn off the aging process in your chromosomes. It has to do with telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes that control aging.
Keeping fit improves strength and balance at the same time. Popular exercises are Yoga and Tai Chi as are swimming and walking. Provided you have a healthy diet and lifestyle, research also continues to suggest that the more regular daily exercise you do (around 30-40 minutes) reduces your risk of chronic illness later in life.
For those who are not so mobile, assistive technology aids such as home elevators helps us to keep safe and healthy at home as reduces the risk of falls which can lead to injury or hospitalisation.