When we think of retirement we think of having as much free time as we want, sleeping in on weekdays and making the most of our freedom. However, as you get into old age this free time can become something of a burden. As our joints weaken and our minds dull, getting out and having fun becomes difficult. There are a lot of elderly citizens that are stuck at home most days with no one to talk to, and what a lot of us don’t realise is that being alone and being inactive can put our health at risk.

Being inactive is just as bad as being obese

We tend to think that as long as we look healthy there isn’t a problem. But, the simple act of sitting down and watching television can actually put us in an early grave. A lack of exercise can lead to cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. As we get older it becomes harder to stay as active as we used to be, which is why living alone can be so dangerous. As you get older, you should take any opportunity you can to get out and get your body moving. Doing regular cardio exercise like taking walks, as well is working to strengthen your muscles and flexibility can lead to a longer healthier life. You should consult your doctor first to get some ideas on what exercises are suitable for you, but you’ll find that even the small things, like walking to the shops regularly, can greatly improve your health.

Being alone can worsen mental health

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can be devastating and for someone living alone a mental disease can be incredibly scary. It has proven, however, that being socially active can stave off some of the effects of degenerative disorders and prevent them from worsening in our old age. Similarly, the worsening of our cognitive capabilities can be better prevented when we regularly interact with other people and keep our brains active. So, the best way to ensure that our minds stay sharp is to socialise. You should get out of the house when you can, engage in stimulating activities with other people, and those with mobility issues can hire care at home services and live-in care workers to ensure that they have someone to talk to every now and then as well as help them keep in touch with other people.

Being lonely can actually make you ill

Humans are social creatures. We get a surprising amount of health benefits from regular social interaction and loneliness is quite prominent in elderly people, especially if they’re living alone and have difficulty leaving the house. Loneliness can be as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. This is because there is such a strong connection between our mental health and our physical health. When we’re stressed we feel all sorts of aches and pains. When we’re depressed we feel tired and lack an appetite. Loneliness has a similar sort of effect on our physical health. Loneliness increases our bodies’ production of the hormone cortisol, which can increase our risk of a heart attack or a stroke and raise our blood pressure. Loneliness, like depression and stress, can also weaken our immune system which means that you would be more likely to get ill, and when you’re old even small illnesses can become difficult to recover from. This is why it’s important that we don’t isolate ourselves in our old age. There are all sorts of ways that you can keep in contact with other people and get regular interaction. It could be something as small as picking up the phone every now and then that could end up increasing our life expectancy.

 

Why being old and alone can lead to bad health