Older people's health 'affects spouse'

Posted on 05 May 2011

The health of an older individual, who may be choosing a care home, affects that of their spouse, new research has found.

According to a study published in journal Health Psychology, there are strong associations in the health of older married couples, both mentally and physically.

Scientists revealed a link in both depressive symptoms and physical limitations. This means symptoms such as unhappiness and loneliness are shared, as is the inability to carry out basic tasks such as climbing the stairs.

Professor Christiane Hoppmann of the University of British Columbia said that a depressed individual would want to stay at home, which means their partner may also stay at home more.

"That's a problem, because when older adults stop being active – going for walks, socialising, shopping – they risk losing that functional ability. It's that old saying, 'use it or lose it'," she explained.

Older couples aiming to keep fit could go walking in a natural environment after one expert said that taking a stroll in a countryside environment had added health benefits.

Dr William Bird, Natural England's strategic health advisor, said that walking in a natural environment was more beneficial to health than doing so in an urban environment.

Posted by Nigel Murphy

 

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