The elderly are a growing population, but unfortunately, many elderly people are also isolated both physically and socially. They may reside in nursing homes or live far away from friends and family. This can negatively affect their health because elderly people thrive when they receive exercise and socialization. Socialization and exercise programs for elderly people can help prevent many of the problems their isolated peers experience.
Alzheimer's, dementia and other memory problems wreak havoc in the lives of the elderly and people who love them. Severe memory loss may cause an elderly person to be unable to care for herself. The cost of nursing homes and in home care is often exorbitant. Thus preventing memory loss improves an elderly person's quality of life and prevents stress in the lives of their family members. The book "Aging and the Elderly" explains that physical fitness can slow down memory loss by keeping the mind active and improving overall health 1. Socialization also improves memory by providing companionship, an outlet for stress and an opportunity to maintain strong mental health.
Elderly people are susceptible to a number of health problems, including osteoperosis, heart trouble, cancer and chronic illnesses. The Michigan Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, Health and sport explains that physical activity can prevent many of these conditions. The textbook "Biology: Life on Earth With Physiology" argues that using muscles and bones daily can prevent them from deteriorating in old age 2. Because many seniors do not want to exercise by themselves or are socially isolated, community exercise programs can strongly benefit them.
Many seniors suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses, according to "Aging and the Elderly." Being away from friends and family, struggling with finances or feeling out of place in society can all exacerbate mental illnesses and decrease happiness. Seniors that regularly socialize with others are less likely to become depressed. They are also better-equipped to get help if they experience mental health problems.
"Biology: Life On Earth With Physiology" points out that stress and isolation are correlated with poor health and shorter lifespans 2. Socialization helps the elderly cope with stress and eliminates isolation. This can improve longevity. Exercise, because of its many physical benefits, may also increase a senior's lifespan.
- "Aging and the Elderly"; L.O. Randall; 2007
- "Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology"; Gerald Audesirk, et al.; 2008
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