Promoting Quality of Life for Older People
Strand 1: Fitness and Mobility for Health
Dr Raija Kuisma – Principal Lecturer in Physiotherapy
(School of Health Professions - physiotherapy division)
Older people are the most frequent users of health care services and a great proportion of patients treated by physiotherapists are older people, who seek treatment for conditions and problems which may be aggravated by lack of exercise and physical activities. One of the key areas in physiotherapy is to promote regular exercise and other physical activities to maintain and improve health related fitness. The skills that physiotherapy students develop during their course in designing, planning and implementing activity programmes for people with special needs and demands are well suited for this programme.
Many older people can experience a decline in the level of engagement with activities after retirement and may feel isolated. This often leads to a decline in physical and mental health, self-esteem, confidence and belief in their own abilities and skills. Therefore they may find it difficult to recommence the activities they used to do when they were younger, or try new activities they have not tried before. Older people may also be very skilled in a particular activity and may enjoy passing on these skills to younger people. Equally, students may be able to help older people regain interest and confidence, modify performance in a familiar activity or help them develop a new interest or skill.
Therefore it is proposed that older and younger people may benefit from an inter-generational experience of participating in exercise and physical activities, where they work collaboratively to exchange skills, knowledge and companionship and increase understanding between generations.
The activity buddies project aims to provide opportunities for older people to engage in activities related to their own interest and for physiotherapy students to practice communication skills and collaborate with older people in the community setting. This buddy relationship will involve participants engaging in health-enhancing physical activities and exercise which, it is hoped, will facilitate, maintain and improve health and fitness and quality of life for older people.
There will be up to three six-week programmes carried out with different teams of students. These group activities will run consecutively throughout the duration of this strand. Older volunteers will be involved in planning these activities alongside the students.
Please note all images are © Axel Hesslenberg and Ben Strachan.