Keeping our minds and bodies active can help with maintaining independence in old age.
Healthy lifestyle choices such as staying physically active, eating well, socialising and being intellectually stimulated can help reduce the risk of chronic disease, prevent falls and increase overall wellbeing.
Chelsea Richdale, the operations, activity and lifestyle coordinator of retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare, recently spent a week at their Weary Dunlop Retirement Village in Wheelers Hill training staff on their lifestyle program, Engage.
“The focus of our Engage program is to meet all parts of wellness including physical, emotional, spiritual and cognitive needs,’’ she says.
‘‘We believe that it is important to continue to challenge our residents and offer activities that are interactive on all aspects of wellness.”
Ryman Healthcare has a number of sites across Australia and New Zealand. The activity and lifestyle coordinators at each village put together monthly calendars of activities and events that residents can participate in.
Richdale says some of the more popular calendar events among residents are ones that generate thinking and discussion.
“Our residents love doing anything intellectual or cognitive through our mind-bender activities such as puzzles, quizzes and crosswords. We also see that in our Memory Lane program because we use interactive ways of communicating to help residents share their life stories and memories. It’s great for our residents to reminisce and get to know each other.”
Richdale says there has been increasing interest among residents wanting to learn more about information technology.
“Residents are becoming more interested in what is happening with smartphones and tablets and interacting in the digital age,” she says. “We’re seeing IT help groups come through.”
A core part of Engage is an exercise program, Triple A. It is designed by exercise physiologists to improve strength, ﬂexibility, balance and agility.
“Triple A stands for ageless, active and aware,” she says. “We hold circuit and functional ﬁtness classes.”
Circuit classes are held twice a week for their more independent residents.
“It’s pretty much what you would expect from a circuit class. They do a warm-up, a 45-minute class where they move between circuit stations, spending a minute and 20 seconds at each station, and a cool-down at the end,” she says. “They do falls prevention exercises that are proven to help maintain independence, but also won’t cause injuries.”
Functional ﬁtness classes run twice a day and are designed for residents who require higher levels of care.
“Those might be for residents with walking frames because the classes can be seated. There’s more control over the movements because it’s completely led by the exercise instructor,” she says. “They use resistance bands, spiky balls or even scarves, depending on what their mobility is. It’s challenging while still being achievable for residents.”
Richdale says residents have noticed an increase in their strength and mobility.“It’s great to hear from people who couldn’t climb stairs but now can or who have fractured a hip and can now walk without a walking frame. It’s that anecdotal evidence that we’re hearing constantly.”