Older people living in care homes need a number of things to maintain their physical and mental well-being. The opportunity to take part in meaningful activities and to have family and friends still actively involved in their lives are crucial.
Wherever possible, a positive and forward-looking approach is particularly beneficial. Later life is a good time to try out new experiences and learn new skills. You have the time to try out activities you maybe always wanted to have a go at but were perhaps too busy to do in the past. It’s an important role for care homes to ensure that later years are as active and fulfilling as possible.
The Wishing Tree
One of the new features we’ve introduced into our care homes is the Wishing Tree. Our activity coordinators ask each of our residents what they would like to achieve over the next twelve months. Each ambition is written on a label and hung on the tree. We then work with our residents to help make their wishes become a reality.
The intention is for the tree to become a focus for residents and that their families will encourage them to come up with ideas that could help them reconnect with their past and recall significant memories and emotions.
Our extensive activity programmes also include Creative Minds art classes. These are tailored for care residents and involve visits from tutors each month to take classes in a range of art forms.
As well as being fun, these classes boost self-confidence and esteem. Learning new skills helps to keep the mind healthy through cognitive stimulation and maintains and improves motor skills.
We aim to help all our residents to remain physically and mentally active, and to get the greatest number of positive experiences possible from their later years by continuing to look forward, not just back.
Contact us today on 01305 300 161 to find out more or arrange a visit to one of our care homes.
There is very clear evidence that staying active in older life has enormous benefits for overall health. There are strong links between physical activity and mental and emotional wellbeing.
According to the World Health Organisation, by being more physically active, older people can expect:
- Lower rates of mortality, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer.
- Better bone health.
- Higher levels of functional health, a lower risk of falling, and better cognitive function.
WHO also reports that physically active older people have ‘reduced risk of moderate and severe functional limitations and role limitations.’ In other words, they are able to cope better and do more.
An Individual Approach
Naturally, the level and nature of physical activity that older people are able to undertake will be different from when they were younger. It’s important for care providers to work closely with health professionals such as physiotherapists to design appropriate activity programmes based on individual needs and levels of mobility.
Dancing, gardening, walking, light aerobics, stretching and yoga can all be highly beneficial. As well as exercising hearts and lungs these activities help to keep joints mobile.
Normally, it’s best to encourage people to do as much as they feel able to take on. For residents who have become accustomed to low levels of physical activity – a programme that gradually increases activity levels can be transformational for their general wellbeing.
Where people receive care at home, awareness of their activity levels and, where appropriate, help and encouragement to join in with community based activity and exercise programmes should be a feature of good care planning.
Physical exercise also promotes independence and social enhancement these are very important for older people in tackling any feelings of loneliness and isolation. An active body and mind alongside a healthy and positive emotional outlook makes a huge difference to your life and those golden years, which is hopefully what everyone should look forward to.
Loneliness is a feeling that many people will experience at least once in their lives, whether
it’s from being isolated at school, moving to university, becoming a stay at home parent, having mobility issues, bereavement or retiring. The feeling for many cannot be described easily, it is not only emotional but it can also affect overall physical and mental health.
Our outlook on life can also be affected, which then makes for a vicious circle, becoming ever more socially isolated and lonely.
The group to be most affected by loneliness is often older people; a mixture of retirement, loss of a partner, difficulties with independence & mobility and not living close to their family can make loneliness a sad inevitability. Research from Age UK indicates 200,000 older people in the UK have not had a conversation with friends or family for a month and 3.9 million agree their television is their main form of company. So what can be done to beat loneliness before it strikes?
Social activity is important in all walks of life – it gives us the opportunity to talk, engage in hobbies and get out and about. Loneliness is often associated with social isolation so part of beating this issue can be found in the engagement with social activities. Dancing clubs, art and book groups, charity volunteering and befriending programmes are a great way to maintaining wellbeing whilst being social.
Knowing who can help
It can be difficult to get the ball rolling; knowing where to find clubs, the ability to access them and keeping the momentum going. But there are many organisations out there to help – British Red Cross run many local projects to help older people retain their independence and beat loneliness. Age UK is another great source of advice, guidance and local projects to help combat loneliness.
For those in care, accessing different clubs can be more difficult however, social activity can be promoted through clubs, entertainment and activities being brought to you. This is something that is seen at Altogether Care. Having an active social calendar within homes encourages social interaction, gives variance between the days and promotes wellbeing. Even if your loved one is coming to stay for a short period of respite care, we still encourage them to get involved with social activities which they may not get the chance to normally.
Nobody should feel alone when it can be so easily combatted.