As humans, we should have answers to these questions. Could we live as a child until we die? Could we be young for our entire life? Could we avoid getting older in our life? The answer for all of these questions would be “NO”. As humans, we have to go through many stages in our lifecycle. We are growing and at the same time, our age is also increasing. So we must think about the stages of our life cycle and the quality of life that we are going to live.
As we all know, due to the improvement in health services, the death rate has severely decreased and the number of aging population in the society is increasing day by day. Thus, the age structure of the population has shifted towards the elderly, which has been observed in almost all of the developed countries. The number of the elderly people will be tripled by 2030 and this will have a serious impact on the health and societal measures.
The increased life span may translate into functional disability and need for assistance. The extra years of the individuals can be marked as reduced mobility, declining health, depression, loneliness and isolation. Due to this, there is a great chance for the quality of life in the elderly lifespan of a person to decline.
What is Quality of Life?
Quality of life refers to the general well-being of a human in his or her life cycle, outlining the positive and negative features of life. It is considered with life satisfaction, including physical and mental health, education, family, employment, finance, religious believes and environment. According to a research done by the University of Toronto, the quality of life is defined as, “The degree to which a person enjoys the important possibilities of his/her life”.
The quality of life of an elderly person is influenced not only by the biological factors but also the demographic, social, environmental, physical activities and the dietary factors have great influence in the quality of life in elderhood. Although the elderly population is capable of thinking and talking about their quality of life, the quality of life is not developed for them. They tend to evaluate their quality of life by comparing to the society around them, including their family members, children and relatives. By these negative evaluations, they stress themselves on dependency and functional limitations. Moreover, they may become isolated from the society due to the death of their spouse or family members. Different kinds of disabilities such as ill-health and functional impairments are seen to make the quality of life to get worse. These factors need to be managed with care to improve the quality of life of an elder and to provide him/her with a good standard of living.
The elderly people should be encouraged to have a good social relationship with their family, friends and neighbours. They should be provided with comfortable houses and good public services, such as free transport. They should also be encouraged to improve their psychological factors like optimism, positive attitude, contentment and acceptance. In addition, they should be provided with financial security, so that they don’t need to be dependent on others.
Some quick facts that can maintain the quality of life of elderly people:-
- Exercise- physical activities aid cardiovascular and respiratory functions, slow down the loss of muscular strength, help in digestion, maintain the bone strength, provide a good sleep and reduce the depression.
- Nutrition- this refers to the healthy diet. The experts prescribe a low fat and low sugar diet with 6-11 servings of cereal products, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-3 servings of fruits, 2-4 servings of pulses, fish, meat, and egg, 1-2 servings of low fat dairy products a day. Also, drinking 6-8 glasses of water are important to promote optimal organ function.
- No smoking- not smoking can reduce heart diseases, stroke and cancer.
- Avoiding excessive alcohol- limiting alcohol to one glass of wine or sprit will reduce the danger of liver damage and some possibility of cancer.
- Stress reduction- reduction of stress will improve the functioning of the immune system and decrease susceptibility to diseases.
- Challenging mind- learning new skills and challenging mind rather than worrying about their age and disability will promote the healthy mental functions.
- Engaging in social activities with their peer groups such as religious gatherings, meditations etc.
Elders are good guide for our lives. They are important for our society as well as our country. Their experiences make our lives to go in a smooth path. Thus, it is our responsibility to pay attention in their quality of life.