Staying Socially Active In Old Age

1071 words - 4 pages

It is common knowledge in the present time that as we age we should strive to keep our body and mind active; however, recent research shows that it is also very important to remain socially active as well. Isolation and loneliness are an ever increasing reality for older adults as they lose friends and family either to illness or by simply drifting apart. Other difficulties such as hearing loss and increased fatigue make it more difficult to get around as easily as it may have been in youth which can also lead to isolation. Many elderly people live alone, and this time spent in isolation may jeopardize their well-being. In fact, Loneliness has been identified as a primary mental health problem affecting seniors (Pettigrew). This literature review will explore some of the most current research findings which support the idea that staying socially active has many positive influences on the elder population.
A recent study done at Rush University Medical Center concluded that higher levels of social activity correlate with a decreased risk of becoming disabled (James). Social activity has been recognized as an important element to healthy aging for quite some time, but now there is confirmation that it leads to better functionality in old age. In this study, over 1,100 adults aged 65 or older were assessed qualitatively every year for a period of 5-12 years. They reported on a scale how many times per week to year they participated in activities such as going to restaurants, sporting events or play bingo; go on day trips or overnight trips; do unpaid community or volunteer work; visit relatives’ or friends’ houses; participate in groups, such as senior center, Knights of Columbus, Rosary Society, or something similar; and attend church or religious services. Over the period of 12 years of analysis, it was concluded that the adults who were more involved in social activities had less instances of mental decline such as dementia. This idea is also supported by Larsson, Haglund, and Hagburg in their qualitative study of everyday activities in older adults. They found that their participants all stressed the importance of contacts with both family and friends, and those who did not have close family nearby visited the post office, bank, or shops to meet other people and have human contact. This finding was interesting because it was not one of the primary research objectives of the study, but it was brought out as the results were evaluated. Living alone in old age causes stress and anxiety over necessary activities (Larsson), such as trips to doctor appointments or the grocery store. This mental stress can lead to long-term health issues, but simply interacting with others can ease this stress. Staying socially active as an aging adult has shown to make the person perceive his/her health as better than those who tend to stay isolated. The article regarding camping (Fornaciari) brings this same idea to the table. It stresses the importance of having...

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