We have all likely heard the phrase “kids keep us young,” but what if there were health benefits to interacting with children? A study conducted in South Africa explores how playing with kids can help improve the mental wellbeing of retirement home residents.
Elizabeth Jane Earl and Debbie Marais of Stellenbosch University conducted a study at a retirement home in South Africa. Results suggest that “programs promoting interaction between residents and children may provide mental health benefits and could help manage common mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.”
“Earl and Marais conducted a study at a retirement home in South Africa where residents can interact regularly with children who attend an onsite preschool,” according a summary of the study on the scientific news website EurekAlert!. “Activities include playing games, doing puzzles, reading, or singing with the children. The program is in line with a philosophy of elder care called the Eden Alternative, which aims to minimize factors that contribute to anxiety and depression.”
This study consisted of 10 women, including four who possibly have anxiety, depression, or both. It is important to note that previous research has indicated that common mental health symptoms go undiagnosed and untreated in retirement homes.
At the conclusion of the study, the same 10 women completed a questionnaire to describe their experiences as well as their symptoms of anxiety and depression. Their responses indicated that their interactions with children increased their sense of purpose and belonging, increased positive emotions, and triggered fond recollection of their own childhoods.
As previously noted, many common mental health conditions go undiagnosed. The American Medical Association provides tips for integrating behavioral health care for older
Many primary care physicians may have an integrated behavioral health practice where there is
a psychiatrist or social worker in the office that can address mental health concerns in more
If you have any questions about home care for your loved ones, you can contact us. You can also check out the rest of our blog posts on our website.
Written by Madison Chalmers
Image by Freepik