As people age, we become vulnerable to a range of physical and mental diseases, such as dementia and arthritis, that can make performing everyday activities challenging. Staying active and keeping our brains stimulated through social engagement and hobbies can reduce the risk of age-related diseases.
As a senior citizen, there's a wide range of activities you can participate in to ensure healthy ageing. Follow these four simple steps to boost brain power and improve your physical well-being.
1. Surround yourself with supportive people
If you know that going for a daily walk or reading a book will help boost your mood and positively impact your health, but simply lack the motivation to take part in these activities, it can help to have friends or loved ones around for encouragement. If you're in a care home, seeking support from neighbours and carers will help you to not only stay motivated, but will also provide you with ideas for activities. In fact, activities are more enjoyable when shared with others.
If you're living at home and feel that you lack this support, consider getting in touch with old friends or family members in the area. If you don't know anyone nearby, find out what's happening in local care homes, which often offer access to a variety of programmes and events.
2. Stay physically active
The NHS says that the majority of people 65 years or older in the UK spend at least 10 hours every day sitting or lying down. This sedentary lifestyle puts them at a greater risk of heart disease and other serious illnesses. Inactivity also increases the chances of depression, loneliness and anxiety. Physical activity releases endorphins and makes it easier to stay positive.
However, being active doesn't mean that you have to go on a run every day. Even taking a quick walk around the neighbourhood or to the local shops can help you maintain your physical and mental health.
"As people get older and their bodies decline in function, physical activity helps to slow that decline," Dr. Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant, told the NHS. "It's important they remain active or even increase their activity as they get older."
You should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week, according to the NHS. This can include fast walking, water aerobics and even gardening or pushing the lawnmower. Start off with 30-minute periods of activity five times a week.
3. Address negative emotions
Anxiety and depression are common side effects of many age-related diseases and often take a serious toll on senior citizens. The NHS says that depression affects 1 in 10 people of all ages throughout the UK. The majority of those experiencing the condition fail to seek support when they should. One of the first steps to getting the help needed is knowing how to differentiate between depression and the normal anxiety and negative emotions that everyone experiences from time to time.
Symptoms can include feelings of sadness or hopelessness that result in a lack of interest in everything from one's usual hobbies to eating. Those with depression may also notice they they're constantly exhausted and that they have a difficult time sleeping. Various aches and pains are also side effects of the mental condition. If you or a friend notice a combination of these symptoms on a regular basis, seek medical attention from your GP.
4. Take up hobbies that interest you
According to The Telegraph, numerous studies have shown that participating in hobbies boosts brain function and can reduce the risk of depression and other mental conditions.
For example, one study by clinical psychologist Dr. Larry Baer and his team of researchers from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, involved the review of reports conducted over four years concerning the health of 333 retirees. The participants, who had an average age of 59, had no serious health conditions at the start of the study. The results showed that those who participated in more enjoyable and mentally demanding activities were less likely to experience a decline in cognitive function. Baer and his researchers also found that the subjects who took part in a wider variety of activities lived longer.
Sometimes revisiting an old hobby is best, as this enables you to reminisce and maintain a healthy memory. It's also important to note that there are a few activities in particular that have been associated with improved cognitive function. For example, reading and writing have been linked to slower cognitive decline in older people. Research has also shown that creative hobbies like painting, drawing and sculpting can enhance brain function. Age UK suggests listening to or playing music as well. Music is soothing and enables people to remember forgotten memories while stimulating the brain.
At Gracewell care homes, we offer several different levels and types of care as well as exercise programmes and social events to help our residents to remain healthy and engaged. To find a location near you, contact us today.