Benefits of Exercise for the Elderly

Recently we have had the pleasure of working with Nick Barry (Exercise Physiologist) who helps some of our clients with their mobility, exercise regime and much more. I asked Nick if he would be our Guest Blogger for this month and let us know about the benefits of exercise for elderly people. Thanks Nick:

Benefits of Exercise for the Elderly

Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Arthritis, Asthma, Osteoporosis, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure. These are just some of the many challenges faced by the Elderly every day. What else do all of these conditions have in common? They can all be helped by exercise.

As we age, disuse of our muscles will lead to atrophy. This basically means they start to waste away. Exercise and strength training is the best way to maintain and build our muscles and bone strength.

Loss of balance and falls are another major problem affecting the Elderly. Exercises focusing on improving balance, weak skeletal muscles, postural muscles and gait training are the best tool in preventing falls in the elderly.

Loss of independence in the Elderly is another area where exercise can really help. If an Elderly person doesn’t leave the house because they are scared to fall, doesn’t get out of their chair as it makes them tired, can’t to up their shoelaces because they have a sore back, then they have lost some independence. Exercise can help prevent the loss of independence. It can also help reverse the effects and make some people more independent again.

Working with Elderly clients on a consistent basis has seen an improvement in their quality of life as well as a reduction in their Falls Risk. As an Exercise Physiologist I can help people with Chronic conditions, and their rehabilitation.

Other benefits have included:

  • Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke or Cancer.
  • Preventing Osteoporosis or Muscle Atrophy.
  • Identify who is at risk of a fall and prevent the fall.
  • Reduce pain caused by musculoskeletal injuries such as a sore back.
  • Lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure.
  • Rehabilitation from an injury or fall.

Nicholas Barry, ESSAM, AEP.

Nick is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist specialising in helping the Elderly, with over 11 years’ experience helping Elderly clients.

Cancer On Our Radar…

There have been many developments on the cancer stage recently and the effort and determination that researchers, medical staff, administrators and volunteers put into treatment, services and preemptive screening are remarkable. The statistics show that with early detection from screenings, such as Mammograms and Bowel Screen Tests, the incidence of cancer spreading has decreased significantly and this also allows for appropriate treatment to begin earlier.

There are numerous options of support for people diagnosed with cancer, as well as their immediate family and carers. This includes medical treatment, complementary therapies, psychological support and care assistance.

More research is being conducted whilst clinical trials and media attention around preventative measures is ensuring that people are aware of the risks of certain lifestyle behaviours. Children are being educated in sun smart ways and our Over 50’s are on every government’s list to have your breasts squashed or your bowel habits interrogated!

We have assisted and supported numerous clients and their families along the journey of this unpredictable disease. Whether it has been full time care or just a few hours of assistance a week to enable a well-earned break for a family member, the commitment from everyone involved is inspiring.

Whilst supporting our clients at home we have also raised our hand to be involved in events that raise awareness and funds for cancer.

This Saturday, Cancer Council is holding a “Relay For Life” event to raise much-needed funds and awareness of this devastating disease. We at Reliant are delighted to be involved in their Mini Health Expo from 2pm that will be supporting the event at Gore Hill Oval.

A Hand to Seniors…

Lately I have been hanging around ‘Seniors’ as much as I can. I have been known to randomly stop old people in the street and start a conversation with them. I am helping ‘oldies’ pack their groceries and carry them to the car, cross the road and, heaven forbid, talk about ‘Bridge’. In my technologically advanced world and the ever-increasing fast paced life I find myself in, I am craving some old fashioned human connection. I don’t mean the comments left on Facebook or the Skype chat that my children have with their grandmother – but the old fashioned ‘cup of tea and biscuit’ connection.

As we move into Senior’s Week we should reflect as a society on how far we have come in “accepting” seniors back into our busy lives. As the ever-increasing isolation of today’s up-and-coming seniors consumes us, we need as a whole community to reflect on our aged members and what we can learn from them.

If we take time to listen to and probe the wealth of information database that surrounds us in the minds of our grey generation, we may find ourselves becoming wonderfully engrossed in lost knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against further advancing society with technology and how convenient my life is with what is available to me, but there is a part of me that craves human interaction and the desire to learn as much as I can about the fascinating lives that our seniors have led.

Our lives will lead us through many changes – some will be welcome and others unfortunately may sneak up on us, or our aged loved ones, and be seen as cruel and unfair. We cannot stop the passage of time but we can as individuals or as a society make sure that our seniors are helped and guided through this time of their lives with dignity, respect and acknowledgement of their lives.

So, as we celebrate Seniors Week and look at the numerous events and activities that are being held throughout our community, let us not forget that seniors should be seen as an integral part of our community every week of the year and if we listen we may just be pleasantly surprised at what we hear!

Shake It Up on 7 March

Reliant Healthcare is very proud to be supporting Shake It Up Foundation’s Research Webinar.

Shake It Up Australia Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2011 to promote and fund Parkinson’s disease research in Australia.

Register here  for the opportunity to connect with two of Australia’s leading Parkinson’s researchers/neurologists. The complimentary webinar will be hosted by Clyde Campbell, Founding Director of the Shake It Up Australia Foundation and include insights from Professor Dominic Rowe of Macquarie University and Associate Professor Simon Lewis of Sydney University.

Discussions will cover:

  • Demystifying Parkinson’s – commonly asked questions by patients and families
  • Latest research theories relating to stem cells, genetics and the environment
  • The future of Parkinson’s research and the path to a cure
  • Living with Parkinson’s in 2014: what does treatment look like?
  • How today’s research is improving tomorrow’s quality of life
  • Assessing the most promising treatments on the horizon

Signs to look out for over Christmas

It is common for families to live far apart, and Christmas and summer holidays are often a time when families come together. If you are visiting ageing parents this Christmas this may be a good chance to quietly observe how your loved ones are coping at home, and there may just be subtle signs that they could use some support.

If you are visiting parents in their home they should be very familiar with their surroundings. Some signs to watch out for that they may not be coping are:

  • Poor judgement such as leaving on the stove, leaving the house unlocked.
  • Disinterest in personal grooming and infrequent bathing.
  • Difficulty preparing meals, lack of interest in food.
  • Mishandling finances, bills left unpaid.
  • Problems managing medications and scripts.
  • Difficulty getting to social events.
  • Problems walking and frequent falls.
  • Increased confusion or memory loss.

Trust your instincts – if something doesn’t feel or seem quite right it usually means that it isn’t. Most older people would prefer to stay in their own home as they age. They often have rich and warm memories and a strong bond with their community. Organising home care so that your elderly parents can enjoy living in their own home is as simple as organising a home visit with us. Our coordinators are happy to come to your parents’ home and work with you and them to facilitate a suitable support service that will help them remain independent and in the home they love.

Is it possible that siblings might not agree?

I dropped by a friend’s house, Sarah, recently to catch up for coffee.  Sarah’s mother had had a fall that morning and her sister was taking her to the GP for a check up. Sarah said that she was becoming increasing frail and may need a little bit of help at home with the heavier household duties. I recommended an ACAT assessment and discussed other options of which one was having a private carer.

The next day Sarah called me and seemed a bit shaken – her mother had been taken to hospital – they suspected cancer. Unfortunately it was not good news and she was given weeks, possibly months to live.

Determined to bring her mother home with care – Sarah asked me once again if I could meet with her and her sister and explain the options of care to her as “she will want mum to come home as well” I organised to go the following day.

Confused by the healthcare system and their options. I explained what Palliative care was, how to organise a family conference, who from the hospital they could involve to answer questions, what care they will receive and of course the services which would be needed to be put in place to bring her home. I encouraged them to talk with their mother and understand what her wishes were regarding her “end of life plan” Sarah said that it would not be a problem to bring her home and looked around at her sister for her to vocalise her agreement.

And that is when I saw it – her sister was not on the same ‘wave length’ as Sarah. I could tell that this is not what she wanted.  The conversation continued for a few more minutes and I was thanked profusely for my time and politely and ever so subtlety dismissed. My time was up; Sarah enthusiastically thanked me for my time and said she would be in touch tomorrow to organise the finer details.

As I lay in bed that night thinking about Sarah – I wondered who would win – Sarah, her sister or Mum.

Two days later I heard from Sarah – she was distraught that she and her sister could not agree. She was upset that she had misunderstood her sister and did not realise that they may have different views.  Her mother was too weak to make a decision and had left it up to her children. The idea of not having her mother come home was just unthinkable to Sarah, but her sister would not budge.

Know your options and voice them early – because as we all know siblings don’t always agree.

Don’t leave it too late to get to know your GP

David, who is 60, is a lovely hospitable, gregarious gentleman. He has worked hard all of his life, has grown children, a beautiful house and money. He was and still is a bit of a flirt, but charming and full of life.

He has dementia.

He doesn’t remember his children’s names but can tell you that he once played Rugby at a national level. He has coffee at the same café every morning, smiles at the owners, talks incessantly and laughs with the customers, but he can’t remember what he drinks.

As I waited outside his house one morning to meet him, he walked towards me with his male carer, football in hand, a twinkle in his eyes, flushes cheeks and threw his head back laughing as he warmly greeted me and asked if I would like to go to Paris. He proudly showed me around his home, although he didn’t know how to open the back door or where he kept the coffee.

David’s dementia is slowly getting worse; he can’t negotiate crowds, ride on escalators, cross the street, prepare food or dress himself anymore.

He has a carer who attends to this.

He can throw a rugby ball, drink coffee and enjoy the sunshine and company of others. He enjoys riding his bike, wine, good food and talking about his plans for a European tour. But he believes his underwear goes on top of his head.

Concerned for David’s decreasing health I rang his GP and shared by concern and asked if I should make an appointment to have him reviewed. His GP did not want to hear my concerns but stated that he should be in a nursing home. I was shocked at this response; I informed him that David was safe with his carers and otherwise was in good health and enjoying life. Once again his GP was uninterested and stated that he was a risk – and should be put somewhere!

Not really prepared for this response I thanked him for his time and quickly ended the conversation. I wasn’t sure what “put somewhere” meant, and how David would continue to enjoy his lifestyle in a nursing home at 60.

I started thinking about my own GP and how he would react to this situation. I didn’t know! When it came to making lifestyle and health decisions for myself or my family, would he support my choices? I wasn’t sure!

I have known my GP for 10 years – and I was worried what his reaction would be. I started asking my friends and colleagues how well they knew their GP’s. The person that they trusted with their life. Surprisingly very few people could answer my question.