Research commissioned by the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) shows 70% of over 65's want to be more active. However, as Care Industry News reports, they face a range of practical and financial barriers.
The NHS guidelines for over 65's recommend 2 ½ hours of exercise and muscle strengthening per week. However, the research by ARCO revealed that over a third of the 1,000 respondents aged 65+ identify themselves as ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ active.
The survey highlighted a number of reasons why older people were not able to do more physical activity. Nearly a quarter listed their reasons for not using nearby facilities as feeling self-conscious in environments such as gyms often dominated by young people, with a further 22% stating the facilities don’t accommodate the needs of older people. Furthermore, the cost of using fitness venues such as gyms and pools was a barrier for 29% of the respondents.
In addition, nearly a quarter of respondents said they would be more likely to attend a nearby gym facility if they had someone to go with. These numbers increased to nearly one in three in over 65's who live alone. Physical barriers also played a part, with over 37% of respondents reporting medical reasons or injury as the main thing stopping them from exercising more.
Staying physically active in later life is crucial to maintaining health and wellbeing, as one in three over 65's suffers from a fall each year, costing the NHS £4.6m per day. Falls account for over half of accidental injury admissions to hospital, and can be prevented by up to 55% by doing basic strength and balance exercises.
The Executive Director of ARCO, said: “Our research shows that age is not in itself a barrier to physical activity. Many over 65's would like to be more active, but struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle due to barriers such as availability, cost and living alone. As the growth of over-65's is at record levels, the extent of the problem is only going to get bigger.”
“For older people to get active, we need to create the right opportunities and facilities for them, at the right price. However, our research has shown that we also need to think about the ‘soft factors’ such as [companion services] and creating a welcoming, non-threatening atmosphere that can cater to an individual’s needs.”
“This poses deeper questions as to how our ageing population is going to live in the future. Retirement communities such as extra care housing and retirement villages must be part of the answer, as they offer tailored wellbeing, health and fitness facilities. However, in the UK only around 0.5% of older people live in a retirement community, while in the US, New Zealand and Australia this figure stands at around 5%.”
Earlier in the year, research by Aston University found that health care costs for residents in villages run by the ExtraCare Charitable Trust are reduced by 38%. It found that unplanned hospital visits fell from 8-14 days to 1-2 days after 12 months of living in an ExtraCare Charitable Trust village, and even routine GP visits were reduced by 46% thanks to on-site wellbeing services.
Home Care Services offer care tailored to a full spectrum of people. Unlike in a care home, residents live in properties they own and have access to facilities such as gyms, local shops, libraries or restaurants. They can also participate in community social events, enabling them to live independently for as long as possible.