gmusic@nurturingnatures.co.uk

The elderly, helping, altruism and health

This week once again issues of how to care for the elderly have hit the headlines with government announcements about how future care is likely to be funded. It is interesting that the primary focus in most media reports tends to be about ‘cost’ of such care, and there is a constant message about the ‘burden’ of the elderly. We know of course that the proportion of elderly people living alone has been increasing in recent years in the UK and US. We also know that living alone hugely increases the chances of suffering from depression. Research has also shown, over many years, that increased longevity and better health go with elderly people having higher levels of social contact, and in particular belonging to more clubs and organizations, for example people who are more embedded in social groups  living longer after strokes and heart attacks. The elderly do better and are healthier if they are well integrated into communities.

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