Positive Ageing: Creating Aged Care Lifestyle Programs That Matter

Aged care_laged care ifestyle programsAged care lifestyle programs could hold the key to the quest for positive ageing, proving once and for all that “you’re only as old as you feel”. A concept promoted by the World Health Organisation, positive ageing is about supporting people to live old age happily, productive and active – despite the challenges associated with growing older.

Positive ageing goes beyond the physical to focus on the emotional and psychological aspects of ageing, recognising that the mind can have a huge impact on your overall wellbeing. Indeed, a decade-long study recently found that older adults who have more positive attitudes towards ageing have a better quality of life.

Leading aged care providers in Australia and around the world realise the vital role they play in this journey. As a result, a growing number of aged care lifestyle programs seek to activate positive ageing.

There are a few important things these aged care lifestyle programs have in common. First, rather than dictating the program, providers are asking residents what they want and offering as much choice as possible; after all, positive ageing is about keeping some independence and enjoying control over your life. Another common factor is that they focus on the whole person. Here are some examples of how this works in action, and some thought starters to help your program design:

Physical

Regular exercise is proven to maintain good mental and physical health – and it is never too late to get moving. Regardless of age, physical activity helps older people think positively, recover from illness and reduce the risk of disease. Strength training is especially beneficial, as it can build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, which will improve balance, mobility and strength.

Aged Care Lifestyle Program thought starters:

  • Ask residents which leisure activities they find interesting and enjoyable, and the kinds of sports they enjoyed when they were younger.
  • Include activities that can be enjoyed by people of different physical abilities, such as Tai Chi and chair dancing.
  • Look to activities that combine the benefits of movement with social interaction and being outdoors, like gardening and walking.

Mental

In the same way as regular physical activity helps keep our heart, lungs, and muscles in shape, we need to give our brains a regular workout. Benefits include reducing the onset of depression, anxiety and mental illnesses. Researchers at Stanford University in the US also found that memory loss can be improved by up to 50% simply by doing mental exercises.

Aged Care Lifestyle Program thought starters:

  • Encourage activities that exercise the brain, whether through reading, writing, conversation or simple activities like crossword puzzles and bridge.
  • Learning is an important part of positive ageing, so give residents an opportunity to learn new skills, such as crafts, languages, computer skills or even dance.
  • Look to physical activities that also work the brain. For example, seniors dance classes such as ballet that not only improve physical fitness, they also strengthen cognitive performance and reaction times, making it a useful treatment for arthritis, dementia and depression.

Emotional

Social interaction is critical to the health and wellbeing of aged care residents. As founder of the Happiness Institute, Dr Tim Sharp (aka Dr Happy) told the 2016 positive ageing convention, “The most significant factor for positive ageing is loving and being loved.” Social relationships can provide support during difficult times, reducing the damaging effects that stress can have on the brain, as well as providing happiness and purpose.

Aged Care Lifestyle Program thought starters:

  • Create a calendar of regular social events, such as knitting groups and family recipe swaps, that encourages friendships.
  • Plan special themed parties and annual celebrations where non-resident friends and family members are invited.
  • Reach out to local schools and universities and start an intergenerational program that lets residents interact with younger people.

When it comes to designing an aged care lifestyle program, there’s no one size fits all: you need to take the time to discover what works for your residents. The best way to achieve this is to encourage resident suggestions and contributions, so they can follow their passions, explore new horizons and live life to its fullest. As Aged Care Specialists, Staples can help your facility provide the best residential care including incontinence and personal care products.

Sean Matthews

National Sales Aged Care Manager at Staples Australia
Sean is a National Aged Care Manager at Staples and has extensive sale management experience assisting corporate and not-for-profit organisations achieve operational business outcomes. In his current role, Sean provides valuable Aged Care insights to assist businesses achieve healthy, safe and supportive facilities for their residents.

Sean is passionate about making a difference in Aged Care and partners with businesses to thoroughly understand organisational challenges and provides sustainable solutions that improve the quality of service for aged care residents.
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Sean Matthews

National Sales Aged Care Manager at Staples Australia
Sean is a National Aged Care Manager at Staples and has extensive sale management experience assisting corporate and not-for-profit organisations achieve operational business outcomes. In his current role, Sean provides valuable Aged Care insights to assist businesses achieve healthy, safe and supportive facilities for their residents.

Sean is passionate about making a difference in Aged Care and partners with businesses to thoroughly understand organisational challenges and provides sustainable solutions that improve the quality of service for aged care residents.

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