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In the Elderly, Good Mental Health Helps Good Physical Health

by Karen Mozzer on 12/29/14 12:58 PM

There is aging, which everyone will do at least up to a point, and there is aging well.  There is a growing recognition among geriatric health care providers, and even provisions in the Affordable Health Care Act that recognize that integrating of physical and mental well-being can make a positive difference in an elderly person’s health.   However, to accomplish this can be easier said than done.


Just like people who are younger, being physically active can help a person’s mental attitude and ability to function well.  Without physical activity it is harder to be mentally alert, but without some level of mental acuity, physical health is more difficult to attain thus creating an added challenge for some elderly people.

A new study from the United Kingdom has found that things like surfing the internet, going to museums, and joining clubs can help elderly people understand more and participate more in the world around them.  Why is this important? Part of what they understand better includes comprehending the labels on their medication. 

The goal is to be mentally active, whether through mental activity or through leisure movements, and physical health will improve.  Physical well-being isn’t the only positive seen from this kind of engagement.  Doctors have also recognized that elderly people who are engaged also have a less likely chance of developing dementia. 

Specific Health Benefits of Social Engagement

  • There is a reduction of risk for cardiovascular problems and some cancers
  • There is a possible reduction in Alzheimer’s disease from those who keep themselves active
  • Blood pressure is lower
  • Less likely to develop mental health problems, such as depression

Risk of Not Being Engaged

  • Loneliness and depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Greater risk of death
  • Less physical activity which can affect cardiac, pulmonary, and mental health.

Age is not necessarily the issue regarding mental activity and health.  A 20 year old who does nothing to stimulate their mind will not be as healthy as a 20 year old who keeps him or herself stimulated.  However, this is compounded in elderly people.  By helping the elderly stay alert and interested in life helps them live a life that is worthwhile.


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