Social interaction is vital for a healthy life

    We all know the basics of a healthy life: eat well, don’t drink too much alcohol, quit smoking and exercise regularly. But it has now been proven that being socially active is another key factor for good health.

    Loneliness and social isolation – often dismissed as minor social issues that affect a segment of the elderly population – can be responsible for a variety of health problems. 

    Studies by leading universities in England and the USA have shown that serious health issues including cardiovascular disease, decreased mobility and dementia are more prominent amongst people who experience long periods of loneliness. 

    A study by the University College London has identified a link between social isolation and loneliness and dementia. And research by John Cacioppo, director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, has shown that lonely elderly people are more likely to develop issues such as vascular resistance, a prime risk factor for high blood pressure.

    The University of Chicago research has suggested that the health effects, which are extremely complex, have most likely developed as an evolutionary response. When cut off from social networks the human brain goes into a protective mode, which can result in more frequent sleep disturbances and higher levels of stress.  

    Understanding that feelings of isolation can even be experienced by elderly people living within an aged care community, Churches of Christ Care Residential Aged Care services, in collaboration with Volunteer services, have developed programs to address the issue.

    The Dust and Chat, and Rise and Shine programs provide opportunities for people living in aged care to engage with volunteers through conversation and meaningful activity.

    This interaction helps residents develop meaningful relationships which enable feelings of belonging, and enhanced comfort and joy. It can also provide a sense then with a sense of control of their life by being connected to others.

    Rise and Shine

    Through the Rise and Shine program volunteers support people living in aged care by helping them prepare for the day ahead. This includes helping to choose their outfit, and talking about what activities they will get involved in, and who they will visit with during the day.

    Dust and chat

    The dust and chat program supports people living in aged care to create their own home environment through familiar possessions in their room. Volunteers assist with cleaning and decorating their room, whilst engaging in friendly conversation.

    To find out more about these programs, contact the Churches of Christ Residential Aged Care Service in your area.

     

    Posted September 28, 2016 in Lifestyle blog