Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2017 Contents Can you give some best practice examples
of active ageing for aged care residents?
FOR THOSE on the trajector y of frailty,
there’s a lot that can be done to help them and
those who care for them. The first point in the
Government’s physical activity recommendations
for older Australians highlights that there is
something ever ybody can do to stay active
regardless of age, abilities or limitations.
It is about keeping people as active and as
engaged as possible. That comes down to active
ageing being a part of the organisation’s culture
and values. If the management of the facility and
the staff don’t believe it is important, then it is
not going to reflect back in practices.
Activities need to be more tailored, using
a person-centred approach that considers past
experience, interests and culture.
Implementing an active service model means
doing things with people versus for them to
maintain as much independence as possible.
What are the biggest misconceptions in
Some of the myths still per vade around what
people should or shouldn’t do, such as the fear that
somebody is going to fall or hurt themselves. There
is more risk in being inactive than doing safe activity.
The perception that it is too late once
someone is in an aged care facility and there
is nothing that can be done to promote active
ageing still persists. Sure, someone might be in
a wheelchair but they can still be encouraged to
propel themselves down the hallway versus being
pushed. This means the resident can still maintain
independence within the facility.
Another misconception is over whose role it
is to encourage activity. It is not just the activity
coordinator or the physio’s job. Care staff can
help keep their residents be active by walking
with them for a few minutes down the hallway
or by encouraging them to do a few sit-to-stand
exercises to strengthen the legs before they
transfer into the wheelchair.
The belief that people with arthritis,
osteoporosis, diabetes or other chronic diseases
should not be active, is another myth. You should
be encouraging physical activity because it can
help manage many chronic conditions.
That older people should only do gentle
exercise in chairs is another myth. If someone has
the ability to stand, they should be encouraged
to do so. For residents who sit for most of the
day, just standing for short periods of time could
be considered exercise.
What tips do you have for aged care staff
to help facilitate and encourage active
ageing among clients?
Taking a person-centred approach towards active
ageing and developing a plan for clients’ overall
wellbeing. Active ageing involves more than
offering a group exercise class. There are social,
cultural and spiritual aspects.
Staff need to think outside the square. A
lot of people don’t want to do “exercise”. You
can build it into other activities if you think
creatively and make it fun. For example, during
bingo, each time their number is called they
stand up. This may help people maintain enough
leg strength to lift their own body weight, which
is essential for getting off the toilet. Incidental
activity is important. Helping people maintain
their abilities to dress themselves or to walk to
and from meals or programs.
Make activities meaningful and relevant to
people’s preferences and culture. I read about
a facility for the Italian community that gave
residents the opportunity to make their own pizza.
You can re-engage them in activities that they have
given up or haven’t been able to do in some time.
What should staff avoid?
With routines and time constraints, it is easier to
push someone in their wheelchair to the dining
room for their meal than take the time to walk
with them. This promotes further loss of mobility
and more dependence.
Staff should also avoid just getting exercises
off the internet that they think might be good for
their residents. Consult with a physio or exercise
For group programs, don’t have a one-size-
fits-all approach, such as bringing ever ybody
down to the activity room. It would be better to
work with smaller groups with similar abilities or
interests. Don’t only offer group programs. Some
people might prefer to do something within their
Since participating in this question and answer,
Dr Cyarto’s role at National Ageing Research
Institute has finished.
Dr LIZ CYARTO, healthy ageing stream leader at
National Ageing Research Institute, answers our
questions on active ageing in residential aged care.
Dr Liz Cyarto
do, such as
the fear that
is going to
fall or hurt
52 | JANUARY – FEBRUARY 2017
ASK THE EXPERT
Links Archive AAA Nov-Dec 2016 AAA Jul-Aug 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page