02 May 2014

Keeping Our Elderly Active

This week there are some talks in the Australian politics of increasing the age pension to 70. While this can be seen as a disadvantage to many, and the topic is raising a lot of debate, having to add extra years to a working career may in fact be good for many and their overall health.

Maintaining a good routine of engaging in cognitively stimulating tasks, going to bed at the same time, eating three meals a day, connecting with peers and contributing towards the society and the local community is very important. In my professional experience, I have seen a number of individuals who have lost the routine once they entered retirement, particularly those with poor health or who accepted early redundancy in their 50’s or early 60’s and never returned to the workforce. I have heard too often of incidents of skipping meals, due to not being bothered to eat, sleeping throughout the day, not having much to do, and spending time inactive at home, not being motivated to sign up for a sport or go walking, as well as instances of turning to alcohol and other drugs to cope with the loss of purpose, engagement and feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. Most individuals function at their best when they have a regular routine and daily rituals which help them keep up good patterns of behaviour. This does not necessarily need to be paid employment and can also include actively participating in volunteer or charity work, study or a hobby.

To demonstrate this, consider a recent story from China. An 80 year old pensioner, Ruan Tang, keeps busy for up to 8 hrs a day killing flies. In her own words “I had retired and was looking around for something to do to help the community and prove useful“. Read more

Chinese pensioner who has spent eight hours a day, seven days a week for the past 14 years swatting bugs
Chinese pensioner who has spent eight hours a day, seven days a week for the past 14 years swatting bugs

Keeping active and engaged after retirement is the best lifestyle choice which can add years to your life.

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