A lack of regular physical activity isn’t good at any age, but a sedentary lifestyle can be especially impactful for seniors. Physically, exercise helps older adults keep their bones, joints, and muscles strong. However, there are some equally appealing mental health benefits your senior loved one may be missing out on if he or she isn’t getting regular exercise. Here’s a closer look at how not exercising affects mental health in seniors.
A Greater Risk of Memory Problems
Numerous studies have linked inactivity to memory-related cognitive decline in seniors. But researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, recently published a study suggesting sedentary seniors could turn things around and enhance their memory performance with regular exercise. These results were seen in more than 50 adults aged 60 to 88 who participated in a three-month study that involved various forms of exercise. Specifically, the forms of exercise that tend to boost memory skills in older adults the most include:
• Walking, cycling, and running
• Other cardiovascular and aerobic activities
• Short-duration, high-intensity workouts
A Greater Chance of Becoming Depressed
According to a Canadian study referenced in The BMJ, depression and anxiety seem to be associated with physical inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle. Encourage your loved one to reduce his or her depression risk by finding comfortable ways to exercise. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends adults 65 and older aim for about 2 1/2 hours of moderate to vigorous activity per week in sessions of 10–15 minutes at a time.
If you’re concerned about your loved one’s ability to exercise safely, consider hiring a trained at-home caregiver to provide assistance. Calgary senior home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
A Higher Risk of Developing Dementia
More than 400,000 Canadians 65 and older are living with dementia, according to the Government of Canada website. Even if your loved one isn’t currently showing signs of dementia, sedentary behavior increases the risk of developing a dementia-related condition. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease states this risk may be the same as the dementia risks associated with certain genetic factors.
If you usually help your loved one exercise but need a break now and then, a professional caregiver can take over for you. Calgary respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed.
A Difficult Time Handling ADHD
While commonly associated with younger people, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can become a problem later in life, sometimes happening when seniors retire and have less structure in their lives. If aging adults with ADHD don’t exercise, their symptoms could be more difficult to manage. Part of the reason for this is because exercise boosts levels of beneficial brain chemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals play a role in increasing focus and attention.
An Inefficient Nervous System
As adults get older, issues with their nervous systems can contribute to or worsen various mental health conditions, including PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety, and depression. Exercise can help with issues like these by enhancing nervous system functions in the brain and increasing levels of “feel-good” hormones called endorphins that affect mood. The good news is there are many ways a sedentary senior can become active, some of which include:
• Walking at a comfortable pace daily
• Taking yoga or Pilates classes for seniors
• Trying water-based forms of exercise if land-based exercises are too demanding
Seniors who need assistance creating and following effective exercise plans can benefit from the help of professional home caregivers. In-home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently. Contact one of our experienced Care Managers today at 403-301-3777 to learn more about our reliable home care services.