The life expectancy of human beings has increased over the decades. According to the United Nations, the latest figures for the period covering 2010 to 2015 point to an average life expectancy of 71.5 years — 68 years and 4 months for males, and 72 years and 8 months for females. As in previous studies, women are found to live longer than men on average in almost all countries.
Longer life expectancy may be largely attributed to advances in science, medicine and technology that have helped eradicate or mitigate many diseases, ailments, and debilitating physical conditions. Mental and intellectual stimulation, which are also important in contributing to overall well-being, have become more widely accessible thanks to the Internet.
Thus, caring for seniors has become a stronger segment of business and society. The demand for caregivers, care facilities, and related industries has increased. The senior sector of the population has continuing needs to be addressed.
Reaching a certain age doesn’t mean one must cease living life to the fullest. Senior citizens need to be encouraged to lead an active lifestyle in four areas:
Seniors need regular exercise to keep muscles strong and to maintain or even enhance mobility. Physical movement ensures continued independence in daily tasks such as eating, bathing or dressing. Ideal exercise programs for the elderly are low-impact, such as chair exercises, tai chi or yoga; however, seniors can also enjoy sports such as swimming or golf.
Those with physical limitations can still enjoy mobility with the help of specialized equipment such as walkers, wheelchairs, and mobility scooters. The type of physical activity depends on the condition of an individual. Seniors with existing medical conditions should consult a medical professional regarding the type of exercise or physical regimen that would be both safe and enjoyable for them.
Stimulating the mind is just as important as keeping the body active. This helps prevent brain degeneration and neurological conditions such as dementia or loss of memory. Reading is a primary activity that keeps the mind active. Many seniors enjoy and benefit from activities such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku games. Playing chess and other board games also helps to maintain sharp memory and cognition.
Books, newspapers and other reading materials should be accessible and available for the elderly to enjoy. Creative and expressive activities like writing, drawing, or painting can be perfect hobbies that have mental and intellectual benefits as well.
Not many people realize that the elderly are susceptible to depression due to physical disabilities or limitations, biological conditions such as hormonal imbalance, or lack of social interaction. That is why it is very important for seniors to socialize. Care homes and facilities make sure that the elderly live in a community setting and offer regular opportunities for them to interact with each other. Other innovative programs even allow interaction with children or animals. Many studies have shown that emotional well-being contributes to overall good health and physical improvement.
Individuals clinically diagnosed with psychological conditions need extra care and consideration, proper medication, and guided interaction, as well as counseling administered by the correct health professionals. Most importantly, the support of family, friends, and the community is vital.
The spiritual needs of the elderly are often overlooked, and yet personal faith is very important in influencing behavior and outlook on life. Good elderly care facilities ensure that this need is properly met.
Regardless of religion or creed, basic spiritual health begins with a positive attitude toward life, which can be encouraged through appropriate reading materials as well as life management skills and techniques.
Reaching a certain age no longer means settling into retirement or inactivity. People of all ages need to be encouraged to make the most of life.