- Helping Employees with Mental Health Issues Get Back to Work
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Oct 20th 2015
- Secrecy at Work: A Growing Phenomenon
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Oct 15th 2015
- Life Goals and the Perception of Time: Do It Now!
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Oct 1st 2014
- Tackling Mental Illness Stigma at the College Level
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Sep 24th 2014
- Social Workers in Emergency Rooms: An Idea Long Overdue
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Sep 17th 2014
- New Biochemical Research Points to Five Types of Depression
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Sep 10th 2014
- Challenges Increase for Family Caregivers when Cognitive and Behavioral Issues are Present
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Sep 5th 2014
- Are You a Caregiver?
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Aug 29th 2014
- To Age with Joy, Be True to Yourself
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Aug 26th 2014
- Eight Ways to Take Care of Yourself During a Health Crisis
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Aug 22nd 2014
View Full Archive
Staying Active Improves Wellbeing for Older Adults, With or Without Memory Problems
Carrie Steckl, Ph.D.: Tue, Apr 22nd 2014
We've all heard that staying active as we grow older is a good thing - research has shown that being involved in a variety of activities can keep us sharp, healthy, and happy.
But when we read about these studies, we often think of older people with no cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer's disease or another dementia. It makes sense that staying active and involved in life is easier for people with no cognitive problems.
However, we're missing the boat (or at least, an important part of the boat). What about older individuals with memory problems and other types of cognitive impairment? Does staying active and engaged with life help them too, or is it too late for them?
This question sounds almost sacrilegious, doesn't it? Maybe a bit disrespectful, too. But I'm putting it out there because the stereotype is all-too-common in our society. Despite increased awareness of dementia and the preserved personhood of those who have it, many still assume that once cognitive impairment sets in, the person may as well give up.
That's why I was so pleased to read about a study conducted by the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging and recently published in the journal Research on Aging. The study found that the more active older people are, the higher quality of life they report, even in the face of significant cognitive impairment.
Hallelujah! This kind of affirming news is just what society needs to hear so that all older adults are provided opportunities to engage with life - those with and without cognitive difficulties.
If you're curious what kinds of activities the study measured, there was a broad range: going out to eat, exercising, going to church or other religious activities, participating in social activities with groups, seeing movies, participating in hobbies, reading, grocery shopping, communicating with friends, watching television, and volunteering.
The study didn't examine whether certain kinds of activities boosted quality of life more than others - this might be an interesting follow-up study. But its results are intriguing and encouraging.
The message is clear - engage in a variety of activities each day and week to maintain your sense of wellbeing and quality of life. And if you experience cognitive impairment, don't quit. You may have to adapt your activities, but you don't have to give them up. In fact, staying engaged with life can create wellness for you regardless of your health status.
Johnson, J. D., Whitlatch, C. J., & Menne, H. L. (2014). Activity and well-being of older adults: Does cognitive impairment play a role? Research on Aging, 36(2), 147-160. Full text PDF: http://roa.sagepub.com/content/36/2/147.full.pdf+html