Keeping older people feeling young

Old age should be a time of peace and happiness, just as retirement is a reward for living a long and fulfilling life. 

But for so many, growing older also brings challenges.

Loneliness and the toll of physical decline are common issues for our elderly and lead to alarmingly high rates of depression among older Australians.

And not only does isolation lead to depression - it also increases the likelihood of developing more severe dementia.

Promisingly, as we grapple with an ageing population, studies are finding novel ways to improve mental health and quality of life among the elderly. I saw such a study when I watched the ABC's documentary series Old People's Home for 4-year-olds. The show detailed a social experiment involving sending a group of preschoolers to interact with the residents of an aged care facility.

It was an overwhelming success.

In just seven weeks, regularly interacting with the children rapidly improved the resident's mental and physical health. It was inspiring to see how, in only a brief time, their lives had transformed for the better.

The experiment was not just great for the elderly citizens either as the kids had a lot of fun too, and will surely cherish these memories.

Social interaction - no matter what form -  increases a sense of value, especially among older people whose physical limitations prevent them from having the same access to the world around them they may have once taken for granted.

It's something I love helping the elderly with too. In assisting older people to tell their stories, I give them that sense of value, social interaction and mental stimulation shown to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Plus, in getting their stories into a form others can access, this brings the ability for the elderly to connect with those closest to them, creating a published legacy that will live on for generations to come.

So, as we get through the pandemic, think of how the lack of social interaction may affect your loved ones. Online tools such as Zoom enable us safely to help them gain a sense of purpose and to push through these challenging times so they become less of a significant personal challenge to our much-loved older relatives and friends.

To find out more about how creative text can help your elderly relatives bridge the isolation gap through storytelling.

Get in contact with me.

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