As we age, we experience a multitude of changes in our physical body. Loss of vision, flexibility, mobility, cognition, and other abilities are just a few of the negative effects of having lots of birthdays. It’s no wonder that for older adults facing these challenges depression is a major issue.
In light of the fact that our aging population is increasing, more research is being conducted to minimize the conditions often associated with this season of life. Some of that research has revealed that cultural engagement (including social interaction, cognitive stimulation and gentle physical activity) can help treat depression in older adults.
A study published in the April, 2019, British Journal of Psychiatry, “Cultural engagement and incident depression in older adults: evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing,” investigated if these same activities could help prevent depression from setting in, in the first place. They examined data collected from over 2,100 adults in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing who did not have depression and followed them for over a decade. They gathered information regarding the frequency of participation in cultural activities (such as going to a movie, museum or theatre) as well as the development, or not, of depression.
Researchers found there is a “dose-response relationship” (the relationship between the quantity of a treatment and its effect) between frequency of cultural engagement and the risk of developing depression. Further, they found this relationship to hold true despite differences in sociodemographic, health-related and social confounders.
Those who attended every few months had a 32% lower depression risk! For those who attended events monthly, the rate was 48% lower. This led study authors to conclude that cultural engagement “appears to be an independent risk-reducing factor for the development of depression in older age.”
While there are some unavoidable changes that accompany aging, there are also many things that individuals can do to help prevent or reduce the impact of those changes. It is important to keep moving and remain engaged in life.
There are a number of cultural activities that offer opportunities for physical activity as well. Museums are a great place to connect with other people, while getting some light exercise in as you walk around. Volunteering is another great way to engage with your community members and enjoy experiences in an area of interest you enjoy. Check out your local civic groups and senior center for activities. From shuffleboard to horseshoes, square dancing to ballroom dancing, hiking to tennis and golf, there are many activities you can join with others in the same life season and with similar interests.
Preserving your physical health is only part of aging. Take steps to preserve your mental and emotional health as well. If you have concerns about physical activities, talk to your doctor of chiropractic at your next visit. Ask about activities that are physically appropriate for your personal health status, as well as any stretches or exercises that you can do to prevent injuries.
Caring for your body can help you not only feel good, but also give you the freedom to relax, and enjoy the company of others, while you create new experiences and enjoy life to its fullest.
Reference : Fancourt, D., & Tymoszuk, U. (2019). Cultural engagement and incident depression in older adults: Evidence from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 214(4), 225267-229. doi:10.1192/bjp.2018.