It’s darker in the mornings, darker in the evenings, and those grey and threatening clouds are not inspiring anyone to get out and about. The call of the couch with a nice warm cup of something can dominate as it gets colder, and even if we have been in a reasonable activity routine over summer, it’s easy for that to wane over winter. At Home Care Assistance, part of our role in home care for the elderly is to play inspirational coach and accountability partner to help you keep up your exercise and activity routine in winter whilst ageing in place at home. The benefits, not only on your physical health, but also on your mental health are overwhelmingly motivational for us, and will ensure we keep you active, rain hail or shine!
When it comes to activity levels in care for the elderly, the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare reports that only 41% of adults over the age of sixty-five report being sufficiently active1. Some estimates suggest that about half of the physical decline associated with ageing may be due to a lack of physical activity. It has been suggested that people over the age of sixty-five, more than any other age group, require adequate fitness levels to help them maintain independence, recover from illness, and reduce their risk of disease.
In terms of physical health, regular exercise and activity when ageing in place can improve:
- Muscle mass: The amount and size of muscle in our bodies decreases with age, but we can increase muscle mass as we age simply by introducing regular exercise, even after only a brief period.
- Bone density: Age related decline in bone density accelerates around the age of 50 years, making older people more prone to bone fractures. However, weight bearing exercise may help to reduce the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis.
- Heart and lung health: Regardless of age, people can improve their cardiorespiratory fitness through regular exercise. It can take a little longer to achieve in an older person, but the physical benefits are similar.
- Joint health: Regular movement of the joints helps them to remain supple and healthy.
- Weight management: Regular exercise burns kilojoules, increases muscle mass and speeds the metabolism. Together, these physiological changes help an older person maintain an appropriate weight.
When it comes to our mental wellbeing, exercise and keeping up our activity levels also plays a key role. Key mental health benefits of exercise while ageing in place include:
- Happy hormone production: Physical activity elevates our mood due to the production of chemicals in our bodies such as endorphins and serotonin. Their effects last beyond the duration of the activity and can also help to manage stress, depression, and anxiety.
- Improved brain function: Exercise can increase the neural connections in the brain and increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
- Positive distraction: Exercise can give your brain a break from focusing on worries or stressors.
- Self-esteem: Improving our physical fitness and strength are great ways to help us feel more comfortable in our own skin and improve self-esteem.
- Sleep outcomes: Contributes to positive sleep hygiene. Energy out at the right times of day can improve the energy renewal experienced during sleep cycles, which in turn can also improve moods.
Despite all these benefits, we know that it can still be a challenge to keep up our activity levels when the colder months set in. When the sun is shining, it is easy to be drawn outdoors to get moving. A nice walk, spending time in the garden, throwing a ball in the yard with the grandkids are great ways to keep active when it’s warmer, and are easy to include in daily routines with your in-home care services too. As it gets colder though, we might need to rethink the types of activities we can safely and sustainably do.
If you enjoy walking, making sure you have the right layers to rug up a little more for your morning walk will help you keep up the magnificent work. If you like a pre-dawn or dusk walk, some extra thought around safety might be needed, such as notifying someone if you are heading out, or considering how you might light your path to avoid increasing risk of falls in low light conditions.
There are also plenty of indoor activities to keep the activity routine alive. You can find just about any exercise class on the internet, even if it is a walking class that you do in your loungeroom, but it can be a wonderful way to try other activities like dance, Tai chi, Pilates, or yoga. These sorts of activities don’t always cost anything, and can be done without special equipment, so are easy to make a part of everyday as we are ageing in place. If you prefer your activity with a side of socialising, why not join a local senior’s exercise class, and have your Home Care Assistance Care Worker transport you to and from.
So, regardless of what’s going on outside your window, you can maintain an active lifestyle, especially with the support of in-home care services. At Home Care Assistance, our balanced care approach is integral to how we provide in-home health care. Not only does it ensure you can stay active and reap the physical and mental health benefits, but we also think it’s a fun way to get the most out of every day. Give us a call to find out more about how we can help keep you at your active best.
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As a leading age care provider, Home Care Assistance offers tailored in-home care services for older Australians, enabling them to live happier and healthier lives in the comfort of their own homes.
We offer private and government subsidised Care Packages and have office locations that are a registered NDIS provider. Our Care Workers undergo extensive training in order to deliver unmatched in-home aged care services where people can continue ageing in place. We are proud ambassadors of the My Aged Care government funded aged care program, enabling Australians to successfully navigate the process and gain approval for in-home care support packages. Home Care Assistance offers hourly care, specialised care, Alzheimer’s and Dementia care, hospital to home care, and 24 hour in home care.