Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2016 Contents STUDY 2
Again using HUR equipment and an almost identical exercise
program as delivered in the MUAD project, Jennie Hewitt, a PhD
student enrolled at the University of Sydney, has investigated
the value of progressive resistance plus balance exercise in the
prevention of falls and falls risk among residential aged care adults.
She is collecting data from 221 participants who were assigned
at random to either the exercise or a control group across 16
facilities in northern NSW and south east Queensland.
Jennie's preliminary data analysis shows a 48 per cent
reduction in falls among the exercise group. This is significant
given falls continue be the greatest driver of accident related
hospital admission among older adults, attract a significant
financial outlay by the government and commonly leave older
individuals with mobility and disability issues.
Within the SUNBEAM projects we ran a small sub-study about
the program's impact on sarcopenia.
As a geriatric syndrome, sarcopenia, which is the loss of
muscle mass, muscle strength and physical performance, plays a
key role in disability, falls risks, physical inactivity and mortality.
In Australian residential aged care, 40 per cent of residents
are sarcopenic, with the prevalence increasing time in care.
In contrast, our sub-study demonstrated that with resistance
training the increase in prevalence could not only be stopped but
participants' could increase their muscle strength and mobility
New initiative to get
Curtin University is partnering with Western Australian aged
care provider Amana Living on a collaborative research project
designed to get older people moving, enhance their wellbeing
and improve their quality of life.
The Residents in Action Trial will promote walking among
older people living in Amana Living retirement villages. The goal
is to encourage greater physical activity, reduce sitting and
enhance mental health among residents.
Researchers from Curtin say they will recruit active residents
as ambassadors for the project and train them in using
motivation techniques to support their peers.
It's hoped this approach will ensure the residents learn
skills they can use to sustain an active and healthy life over the
Stephanie Buckland, CEO of Amana Living, says it is well
documented that remaining active in later life is key to having a
healthy mind and body.
"This project has the potential to demonstrate how peer
support can help older people stay active for longer so the
cornerstone of this project is in recruiting ambassadors to
motivate their friends," she says.
The project will take place across 14 Amana Living retirement
villages over two years and be completed in partnership with
Australian Catholic University and Victoria University.
"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."
capacity, drawing them away from sarcopenia and towards a
reduction in disability and improvement in capacity in activities
of daily living.
Here I have given only three examples.
While the amount of work investigating the impact of
progressive resistance plus balance training in the aged care
sector is not vast, the evidence is positive and undeniable.
This form of exercise brings physical, cognitive and
financial benefits to the client, the provider and to the Federal
Yet even in the presence of significant evidence it continues to
be underutilised, or worse, a gym or exercise clinic is installed at
an aged care facility but sits unused.
Getting a gym or clinic is just the first step. For programs to
work and clients to benefit, trained staff must be available to
deliver programs, clients must be educated about the benefits
and all staff need to be supportive.
Moreover, when organisations employ a top down and bottom
up approach to health and wellbeing, programs work and clients
In our research we use this approach and not only see client
health improve but program adherence and staff satisfaction
remains high, as does program uptake.
The providers who have employed progressive resistance plus
balance exercise as a service model of care are a rare breed who
deserve acknowledgement for embracing the evidence.
These organisations are prioritising their clients' health
and turning their back on an aged care culture that has made
I have little doubt they value their decision to incorporate
resistance training into the service model of care. Given the
organisational value and the benefit to clients, it is astounding more
providers of aged care services have not embraced this approach. n
Tim Henwood is principal at AgeFIT solutions and honorary senior
research fellow in the school of human movement at The University
Amana Living Moline Village resident
Ila Banks with Curtin researcher
is the most powerful
in the battle against
disability, risk of
falls and morbidity.
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 43
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