Editor’s Note: This sponsored content is brought to you by Renew Senior Communities – Glenwood Springs
research demonstrates the mind’s capacity to influence a person’s health, both
positively and negatively. If left unchecked, depression and despair can
inhibit recovery from illness and lead to hopelessness and premature death.
Ken Wells, in the landmark Rand study at the University of California, Los
Angeles, found that 50 percent of all depressed people are over 65. Wells
studied depressed versus nondepressed people and found that depressed elderly
patients used four times the amount of health care dollars than nondepressed
seniors, and had a 58 percent greater mortality rate within the first year of
admittance to a skilled nursing facility than their nondepressed counterparts.
example, depressed people tend to lack motivation to get up and move about.
This inactivity makes them susceptible to urinary tract infections and
pneumonia, which if left untreated can lead to kidney failure and death.
Stimulating the mind and body
community’s enrichment and activity program to be effective, it must be
sensitive to the emotional forces that motivate people in this age group. The
program must be designed to redirect their focus away from their limitations
and toward productive, educational and social activities with a positive
emphasis that will enhance the quality of life.
senior apartments are full of activity. Residents are attending college
courses, cooking classes, traveling, and remaining active in service
organizations in the community. Variety and respect for individual preference
are key elements in a successful recreational activities program. Leisure
interests are lifelong habits that each person develops. These interests
continue into later life, even after one has entered a senior living community.
A sense of purpose
innovative programs utilizing different services and modalities have been
developed. Where communities provide supportive living and socialization, along
with medical care, resident functioning is enhanced and deteriorations of old
age are significantly delayed.
and more research shows that if seniors want to feel younger and stay
healthier, they need to get involved with life. The very act of volunteering
and interacting with others brings a sense of purpose and contribution to one’s
self and community in a way that can actually build longevity while
strengthening the body, mind and spirit.
Improving brain function
to recent studies, there is a strong and direct link between physical activity
and how the brain works. Different types, amounts and intensities of physical
activities improve brain function. Michelle Carlson of Johns Hopkins University
is working with a novel new program called Experience Corps. This program
embeds physical and mental activity into weekly volunteering for older adults
to mentor children in local elementary schools.
need to address socioeconomic barriers to motivate older adults to regularly
engage in healthful behaviors,” Carlson says. “And many people don’t appreciate
the power of physical activity for our brains.”
studies from this and other similar programs have found that regular physical
and mental activity has resulted in improved memory and other cognitive
programs are part of the routine at Renew Roaring Fork. “We have a weekly music
expressions group which brings seniors at the community together with toddlers
to share a regular musical journey and explore the feel, sound and vibrations
from various musical instruments,” according to Jennetta Howell, Renew
enrichment director who leads the group.
musician and former singer/performer, she has both experienced and personally
witnessed how the children and residents interact through the common string of
residents, children and moms all look forward to these weekly sessions which
leave everyone invigorated and engaged,” she said.
found that targeting low-intensity activity that is theme-based, in this case
music, is an important and scalable intervention that leaves everyone
challenged and satisfied.
older adults have a desire to participate in meaningful, productive activities
that have been proven to be highly beneficial. In one recent study published in
Aging magazine, epidemiological data suggests that for older adults,
volunteering and intergenerational activities have been associated with lower
mortality, improved well-being, life satisfaction and may decrease functional
age differently mentally physically and emotionally. Whether you are you are
simply experiencing “senior moments” or have been diagnosed with dementia,
research shows that the condition is never bigger than the person and that
there is something everyone can do to make an impact.
it is helping children with reading skills or making art to donate to an
underprivileged children’s program, seniors are not done yet and they still
have something to contribute — and seniors are strengthened from that
contribution, according to research in major universities like Johns Hopkins.
activities and programming to promote a sense of well-being and purpose,”
explained Lee Tuchfarber, CEO of Renew Management. “This provides a sense of
accomplishment and contribution that is ‘instrumental’ to combatting the
unhealthy effects of boredom and depression.“
shows that creativity and imagination are untapped reserves in all elderly
people and even in those with dementia. Given that, it’s possible that true
retirement can actually become obsolete for active adults.
believe there are no age limits and that age is just another limit to shatter,”
according to Mr. Tuchfarber. “Participating in a volunteer program drives
health benefits through increased physical activity, a sense of contribution,
and social connectedness. … Keeping busy by volunteering is a form of active
aging and if you don’t use it you lose it, but if you do use it, you become
stronger,” he concluded.