Our body and mind need to have optimal mental and physical health at all ages, but it seems that they are mostly vulnerable in the childhood and in the old age.
In the case of young children parents or babysitters bring them at playgrounds so that they interact with their peers thus developing social and motor skills. The fresh air and the effects of the sun are highly needed so that the growth is natural and optimal. As people age and thus reaching the older age the need of playgrounds is also higher because people become fragile as young children in this period of their life. Their bodies need to be properly maintained and the social interaction is of great importance as in that way dementia or other mental diseases are being prevented.
Loneliness makes them vulnerable leading to a serious decline in physical health and overall wellbeing. However, social isolation and the feeling of loneliness can affect any age group in this modern way of living, but the elderly are mostly affected. According to the recent statistics of the National Poll on Healthy Aging around a third of seniors are lonely.
People who are lonely have poor physical and mental health, bad memory, and low life expectancy. The life span of these people is even lower of the ones who lead sedentary lifestyle, smoke and are overweight. In addition to these being alone can trigger many health concerns such as anxiety, depression, heart attacks, or strokes that influence the longevity and well-being.
Loneliness can be reversed, according to Dr. Carla Perissinotto, associate chief of clinical programs in geriatrics at the University of California San Francisco.
The Benefits of Senior Parks
Visits to senior parks that are equipped with low-impact equipment can improve muscle strength, motor coordination, balance and flexibility. This equipment may involve the use of low-speed treadmills, cross-trainers, flex runners, flex wheels, sit-up benches, or exercise bikes. Not only that the physical health will get boosted but as well as the mental one as the social interaction with the peers is inevitable.
According to Joana Hughes, a spokeswoman for The Royal Parks, a London-based park management agency, maintains that loneliness and isolation will not be an issue for the seniors anymore. These parks will provide the needed physical activity boosting their motor skill and muscles and as well as nurture their social and mental health.
These playgrounds for seniors are widely introduced in Asia and Europe. China introduced its first park for seniors in 1995, and this set up was immediately followed by Japan and several European countries.
This is how the rest of the world considers the use of playgrounds for seniors, but the USA takes a different approach and develops multi-generational parks, suited for both seniors and children. These two groups can easily interact and because of that they should mingle and enjoy their company.
Sarah Pinksy, Director of Client Services at KaBOOM!, an American non-profit organization, maintains that play is a great way for social interaction in both seniors and children. Play can offer numerous cognitive and physical advantages, soothe stress in adults and as well as fight the toxic stress in children.
KaBOOM! is of great assistance for the communities by inciting them to build playgrounds for both children and seniors. This organization is teamed up with the Humana Foundation and thus helps in the refurbishment and rebuilding of old and abandoned parks. Namely, up to now they have managed to build over 53 multigenerational parks across the country.
According to Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging, the value of these playgrounds in terms of positive social environment is immense. The regular performance of outdoor exercises and activities has already reduced the rates of hospitalization in the elderly population.
States in USA have started to invest more in such parks, for instance the City of La Marque, Galveston County, Texas, spent over $36,000 in 2014 to equip the Carbide Park for the seniors. This park is equipped with cobweb floors, zig-zag pipe, fitness steps, fitness ramps, throttle bar, stretching boards, seated bar grabs, and many other machines that help in keeping flexibility, mobility, and balance of the body of seniors. Stephen Holmes, a commissioner in the county, believes that there are will be plenty of seniors that will visit these parks thereby improving their physical shape and social skills.
This visitation will help with the feeling of loneliness and all the symptoms related to physical inactivity. Plus, the company of children will offer numerous mental health benefits and better general health.
The use of multigenerational parks will be a great way to fight off loneliness in the older generation and improve their overall well-being.