Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2016 Contents The Federal Government's mandating of reablement and
restorative care within the delivery of aged care services
is a significant part of the aged care reform agenda.
When coupled with the movement to a consumer
directed care model, services that bring clients health
and wellbeing have become of growing importance.
For the proactive organisations, this has seen the emergence
of better trained staff and a movement towards a service model
that embraces appropriate exercise as a therapy.
Further driving this are a number of professional allied health
bodies that have been lobbying the government armed with
significant evidence about the physical, cognitive and economic
benefits of a reablement and restorative care approach.
This evidence is undeniable that when adults enter into
regular, ongoing, targeted exercise, health and wellbeing can
change positively and quickly.
However, of the many forms of exercise available, progressive
resistance training is the most powerful in the battle against
disability, risk of falls, morbidity and health service utilisation. Yet
it continues to be the most underutilised.
This story is common across different groups of people, with
the concept of resistance training conjuring up images of massive,
muscular men grunting in front of mirrors.
Due to this perception, and a few other barriers to
participation, there is a low level of engagement in
resistance training among the general population.
Nevertheless, for the old and very old, resistance
training holds the key for prolonged wellbeing -- with
gains in muscle strength that translate to improved
capacity in activities of daily living.
Evidence also suggests a reduced risk of disease
symptoms including dementia and osteoporosis, and
improved social inclusion, dignity and quality of life that
further translates to a reduction in carer needs and burden.
Benefits aside, machine-based training is incredibly
safe, with adults sitting securely in a piece of equipment
producing a force and the machine doing everything else.
So safe, in fact, it is commonly said the benefits far outweigh the
risks and extend to all, independent of age, disability and disease.
Confident in the wide reaching benefits and value to older
Australians, in particular those who experience a level of
disability and are accessing government supported aged
care, we have been running a series of studies, adding to the
Supported by a Department of Health grant, in partnership
with Burnie Brae and Healthy Connections, The University of
Queensland, Bond University, HUR Australia and St Vincent's
Health Australia, we are delivering a clinic-based progressive
resistance plus balance program -- the Muscling Up against
Disability (MUAD) project.
Community-dwelling adults aged 65 years and older who have
Commonwealth Home Support Packages attend twice weekly
training for 24 weeks. To date, over 240 adults have entered the
study, with the last group due to enter the exercise program in
While the final data collection won't be complete until August
2017, preliminary results show an increase of up to 360 per cent
in the machine resistance and changes in isometric leg strength
greater than 110 per cent.
To put this into context, these are muscle changes that
directly translate to improved capacity in standing from sitting,
mobilising and climbing, and all markers of independence.
In addition, participants' testimonials tell us that
people have a renewed feeling of worth, more energy,
are more confident on their feet and are experiencing
less pain. While the study has a way to go, there is little
doubt we are changing people's lives for the better.
Importantly, this is implementation research. The
program is being delivered and managed by Burnie Brae,
which is Queensland's largest community centre and
whose mission is to promote client health and wellbeing.
Confident of the value to older adults with aged care
packages, Burnie Brae has established an exercise clinic
with the intention to run the program as an ongoing and
sustainable aged care service.
Our experience shows that
programs of resistance training
bring physical, cognitive and
financial benefits, writes
Dr Tim Henwood.
Dr Tim Henwood
42 | NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2016 | AAA
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