by Vishnuprasad on  May 14, 2015 at 3:56 PM Health Watch
South African Cities Paint Their Hometowns Turquoise for Old People
The world's population is ageing rapidly. Before 2050, the proportion of the people aged 60 or above is expected to double from about 11% to 22% - an estimated increase from 605 million to 2 billion.

Older people are vulnerable to illnesses especially mental or neurological disorders. About 6.6% of all disabilities among them are attributed to neurological and mental disorders. According to the World Health Organization, about 47.5 million older people have dementia and 15% above 65 years suffer from depression.

Society often treats older generation as financial and social burden. To create awareness that older people must be remembered and treated with kindness and respect, the 'To Care Foundation', a South African NGO, organizes a national level campaign called 'Go Turquoise for the Elderly.' The one-month-long campaign starts on May 15 (International Family Day) and it will continue till June 15 (World Elderly Abuse Awareness Day).

As part of the awareness campaign, volunteers will decorate the towns and cities in turquoise color. The initiative aims to create awareness about the elderly, especially those not accommodated by institutions for the elderly. It also helps raise funds for organizations for the aged.

"South Africa has over 2.75 million older adults. Among them, 1 million are already over the age of 75. This generation in our country is often seen as soft targets for crime, abuse and neglect. The situation has to be changed. The campaign aims to demonstrate how individuals, families and organizations can make the world a better place for the elderly," the NGO wrote in its official web page.

During the campaign, free medical check-ups including blood tests for elderly are organized across the country.

Seniors Should Surf the Internet

The campaign recommends senior people to learn computer and Internet. They cite a recent study by Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies, which shows that the Internet helps elders stay connected with family and friends, reducing loneliness and depression.

The campaign recommends younger members of the family to teach their grandpa or grandma how to use the Internet and computer.

"Maintaining relationships with friends and family at a time in life when mobility becomes increasingly limited is challenging for the elderly. Increased Internet access and use by senior citizens enables them to connect with sources of social support when face-to-face interaction becomes more difficult," said Dr. Sherry, study co-author and associate professor of Communications Studies at University of Montevallo in Alabama.

Dance Dementia and Alzheimer's Away

A study conducted by Arts for Health Cornwall and Isles of Scilly recommends dance for elders to improve mental health. According to the study, older people who take part in regular dance classes show a reduced incidence of dementia.

"Dancing requires concentration on steps and moves. It helped elders keep their mind active and alert. Many people in the older generation grew up in the time of the big bands and music hall dances. Reliving those days through music and dance makes them feel mentally young again. Dance is so versatile that you can do it standing, seated and even in a wheelchair," says Rosie Allen-Perdikeas, a dance artist who specializes in bringing dance to older people both in and out of care settings and within the Mental Health sector.

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