How do social activities and community affect the quality of life of older people?
The fullness of people’s lives is determined by many factors – the environment, physical and psychological health, material well-being, relationships, autonomy and independence. Maintaining quality of life often becomes more difficult as you get older – especially when your health deteriorates, or when you lose loved ones or the ability to function independently. In such cases, people’s social life suffers and their needs for self-fulfilment are not always met.
The Lithuanian publication “Health-related quality of life of Klaipėda region seniors participating in the activities of the University of the Third Age” revealsthat the various activities are related to the overall quality of life and the promotion of the mental and physical health of seniors. For example, needlework often satisfies the need for self-fulfilment, gives satisfaction from the results of work, and allows you to focus on the process, forgetting the troubles that plague you.
Another study conducted abroad, “Effects of social activity on health-related quality of life according to age and gender: an observational study”, showedThat health-related quality of life for seniors also depends on participation in social activities – so it’s not just the activities themselves that matter, but also relationships, community, friendships and even volunteering. The findings also show that older people are more likely than younger people to participate in social activities, a trend that is particularly pronounced among older women. A deeper examination of the importance of social activities for seniors reveals that activities based on relationships with people have the greatest impact on health-related quality of life, making community belonging one of the most important factors.
Examples of useful activities for seniors
There are many activities that can be useful for developing the physical and mental abilities of seniors – but of course each person should choose them according to his or her own individual capabilities. A routine that includes stimulating activities such as exercise, animal therapy, board games and many others improves quality of life by reducing the likelihood of depression, developing motor skills, building a sense of independence and achievement, and promoting self-expression and emotional connection, especially if the activities are carried out with like-minded people.
- Creating handicrafts – Ceramics, drawing with pencils or crayons, painting with watercolours and acrylics, and many other similar artistic activities allow you to rediscover your creativity and express yourself.
- Gardening can also be a stimulating activity, especially if the older person enjoys spending time outdoors. Not only is it useful because it gets you moving, but it also gives you job satisfaction when the plant blooms.
- Exercise are good for people of all ages – improving physical health, heart and other organ function, gaining strength and, of course, endorphins – one of the hormones of happiness, which are essential for well-being.
- Animal therapy – Another fun activity that encourages bonding and helps brighten your mood.
- Group games and activities allow you to be part of a community, which helps elders feel heard and prevents social isolation and loneliness.
Stimulating activities contribute to a better quality of life, not only by helping people to integrate into their communities, achieving fulfilment and reducing the likelihood of depression, but also by promoting general health. It can also help prevent specific diseases. For example, a lack of physical activity is associated with a higher likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease, while a lack of stimulating activities can increase the chances of mild cognitive impairment and dementia. A good quality of life is therefore much easier to achieve with stimulating activities that match seniors’ capabilities.