While home isolation is needed to protect our older population from infection, it will cause serious deterioration in the health and physical abilities of older people. Active Ageing Australia wants to prevent this and has a solution.
It is a time of great fear and uncertainty for older people. With so many things out of their control, it is important that we support them to control decline in mental and physical health by helping and encouraging them to exercise at home.
Home quarantine and social distancing techniques will mean that older people cannot participate in their usual community-based activities; socialising, sport, recreation, gym, exercise classes. The impacts of this will be significant.
• Being isolated at home and inactive will have immediate negative effects on older people's mental health, physical health, and wellbeing. Lack of use quickly causes muscle strength to decrease. Muscle mass diminishes 1 – 3% each day.
• Walking in the community, though safe and enjoyable, is unfortunately not enough.
• Months of isolation we will see older people lose potentially huge amounts of strength and consequently, independence.
• We will see older people become frail, less mobile, more dependent on care and, of great concern, having more falls.
Much of this negative impact can be prevented by exercising at home. Exercising at home is safe and effective. The right exercises, done regularly, will prevent deterioration in mobility, balance and strength. Staying active also strengthens the body’s immune system and improves mental health and physical health more broadly.
We need to assist older people to exercise and stay physically active while they are isolated and housebound. Exercising at home has been shown to be effective.
In 2003, following the outbreak of the SARS virus, in response to the issues affecting older people, Active Ageing Australia was commissioned by the Commonwealth Government to research, develop and deliver a book to support older people to safely exercise at home. This book was recently updated as “Moving For Life Your Way, Home Exercises for Independence and Wellbeing”.
This book’s purpose is now not only relevant, it is urgent. Home exercise books and DVD's are low cost, ready-to-go solutions and delivers positive messages for our older population. Active Ageing Australia has plenty of stock of the Moving for Life Your Way books and also has a number of other resources including exercise DVDs in hard copy and via streaming, available on our website. We encourage organisations that support older people to get these resources into their hands urgently.
Active Ageing Australia has been supporting older people to stay active for over 40 years but never has the need for this been more important.
We ask that you promote this message through the media. We welcome the opportunity to be speak publicly about this.
Laura Perdue, Board President
0410 598 144
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