Dr. Kathy Wright is a nurse researcher and KL2 scholar from the National Institute of Nursing Research/National Institute of Health-funded Center of Excellence to build the Science of Self-Management at Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University.
Dr. Wright’s primary research focus is designing self-management interventions to improve the physical and mental health of low income older adults. Her research interests include mental and physical health outcomes, chronic stress, prehypertension, and quality of life. Dr. Wright received her PhD in Nursing from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City Utah.
Growing old can have its medical issues, but doing something as simple as washing the dishes or dusting can make one feel better emotionally and physically.
In our study, we investigated factors that influence physical and mental health among this frail group.
We reviewed physical and mental health surveys given to 337 adults aged 65 and older who were enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, along with 2010 census tract data on neighborhood poverty and income. We also asked questions about their exercise routines such as walking and their physical activity such as housework.
To our surprise, even in a frail group of low income older adults, engaging in physical activity such as housework was associated with higher perceived physical and mental health. Thus, we concluded that housework, a task that is often considered to be tedious, may in fact have some benefits to our health as we age. Given also the frailty of this group, the activities were not strenuous. So that even taking time to clean off that cluttered kitchen table, clear out the junk drawer, or dust furniture may lead to greater perceived health.
As the number of persons 65 and over rises in the United States, we are challenged with ways to promote their physical and mental health. Prescribing housework may be an easy means of maintaining activity and mental health.