Senior Exercising for Health and Wellness

As a Senior Living administrator, you’re faced with tough choices.

You know that already.

How do you keep your community and staff happy and healthy with a bottom line that’s rarely as generous as it needs to be?

We’ll give you a hint…

Okay, we’ll just tell you…

Evidence-Based Exercise Programs (EBPs)

No joke. No gimmicks. Real, scientific evidence published in the Journal of Aging Research, as well as several others, that demonstrates that the benefits of EBPs improve the quality of life. So much so, that it’s resoundingly worth the cost and effort. They’re an investment in residents that relieves pressure on facilities as well as staff.

Those that use EBPs have happier and healthier residents that:

  • Have less hospitalizations
  • Require less physical therapy
  • Need less time and attention from staff

It’s hard to overrate the investment. 

Why EBPs Specifically?

The National Council on Aging recommends EBPs because they consistently demonstrate positive outcomes for vital functional and health-related variables. As the name suggests, Evidence-Based Programs are structured around reliable and repeatable data that measure the effects and outcomes on highly specified actions and programs.

EBPs come with the constancy of results that are needed, rather than just some equipment and classes available at random. While every resident is unique in their own way, counting on standard results is required when submitting a budget proposal. EBPs are proven effective, are recommended by experts, and are therefore easy to support.

These programs are a game changer.

EBPs raise health status, increase the quality of life, enhance well-being, reduce chronic diseases, and help build strong communities. Administrators making these community-clinical partnerships is key to reducing illness and disability, and vital to promoting overall well-being.

Let’s Talk About Sarcopenia With Aging

This big scary word you may have heard before is one of the biggest enemies of the senior population.

“Sarcopenia, or the decline of skeletal muscle tissue with age, is one of the most important causes of functional decline and loss of independence in older adults.” ~Current Opinion in Rheumatology Journal

Sadly, when adults stop being active, they can lose 3-5% of their muscle mass after their 30th birthday, for every decade they age. Even adults who are active will still lose some muscle.

— And any reduction in muscle mass decreases strength and mobility.

This means more falls, more fractures, more need for mobility equipment. It means more assistance and care needed. It means a decline in the very essence of wellbeing for residents and a greater strain on staff and facilities—not great for a bottom line or thriving community.

Sarcopenia begins to happen even faster between the ages of 65-80. The symptoms include a loss of stamina, strength, flexibility, balance, posture, as well as the reduction in physical activity, and general weakness. Once it begins, it then snowballs, making the muscles shrink even faster as the years go by.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

The Number One Treatment

There is too much life left to be lived in the extension of our senior years to let frailty take over and require more full-time care. When 70 is the new 50, seniors may have to work for it, but it’s worth every moment.

While there are a limited number of pharmaceuticals currently being studied to fight sarcopenia, they aren’t preferred, offer only small hope, and come with a host of potential side effects.

Instead, the irrefutable champion to combat sarcopenia is resistance/strength training exercise. This is exactly the kind of thing the developers of HUR equipment had in mind when creating the precise pneumatic machinery for older adults. Seniors need to get the most benefit out of each movement with the least risk of injury. They need specialized equipment for their distinct needs. When that happens, benefits are maximized and risks are minimized to the lowest point.

Simply stated, when EBPs are used, wonderful things begin to happen. Take a look.

Benefits to Seniors and Seniors Communities Using EBPs

For the Community and Facility:

  • Better use of resources, less need for additional staff
  • Partnership facilitation from developing a key clinical/community link
  • Greater health prognosis and healthcare experience for residents
  • Less hospital and provider visits translating into lower health care costs
  • Each program implemented makes it easier to replicate and spread to other campuses/facilities
  • As residents see results, there is a greater potential for more funding.

For Seniors:

  • Less falls and fractures
  • Better sleep, less nighttime waking, requiring less attention from staff
  • Lower rates of depression, sadness, and anxiety
  • Better balance, coordination, posture, and strength, needing less mobility assistance
  • Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, and even some cancers!

So How do You Get Your Residents to Participate?

While the research is clear on all the incredible benefits of EBPs, statistics may not be enough to motivate some seniors to get up and get moving. Humans sometimes need something besides cold, hard data, to get us to want to do something.

Senior living center team members shouldn’t just focus on the data, but motivate with personal goals, social interaction, and fun! Inspiring examples such as being able to take a dance class, going for a walk or run, participating in sports, taking part in center activities with their friends or family, sometimes mean more than, “improves cardiac function.” Even though, that’s a pretty significant motivator.

Sadly, many of seniors mistakenly believe they’re too old or weak to enjoy being physically active. The oldest old and the frail are almost always the most sedentary residents. They don’t understand that exercise is the medicine. And sometimes, this attitude is not even their fault.

For decades, physical and exercise therapists weren’t comfortable supporting the oldest old, through even modest physical exercise. It’s only been recently that Institutional Review Boards and professional organizations have started to promote that the benefits gained through physical activity, far outweigh the small risks they may pose. Using quality, senior specific equipment further reduces this risk. Not to mention, most exercise programs of the past were structured around young to middle age people. These simply don’t work, or apply well, to the very frail or oldest old. This isn’t the case anymore. Senior specific machinery equipment makes getting active and building muscle easy, attainable, and enjoyable.

Seniors deserve to feel as powerful as they really are. They deserve to feel good and celebrate as many years as possible.

After all, this is The New Age of Strength.

Something to Think About

There is no one better placed to make center-wide investments in the community that make the life for residents and staff happier and healthier, than administrators. EBP’s host of benefits will become evident as residents begin to be, or stay, active on their strength/resistance program with specialized older adult equipment. As more of the community participates, even more, will join in and the return on the investment won’t just be in a more comfortable bottom line, but in health and happiness.

That’s a good job and a good deed well done.