Active Living a Prescription for Wellness Among Older Adults

Research shows that maintaining an active lifestyle brings significant health benefits to people of all ages and abilities. Learn about United's approach to active aging...

This is particularly true for adults over 75, who are frequently identified as the most sedentary of all adult age categories, and therefore most at risk of experiencing adverse health effects related to inactivity.

In its mission to bring living to aging, United Active Living understands the importance of staying active, employing Kinesiologists who work with residents to help them achieve their activity and lifestyle goals. Staying active in mind and body form the basis of a wellness-focused lifestyle no matter what stage of life a resident is in.

“For us, working with older adults comes down to kindness and patience, and understanding what the resident wants to achieve,” said Tracy Roberts, one of two Kinesiologists at United’s Fish Creek community. “The bottom line is that we want residents to get stronger so that they can perform the activities that are important to them.”

Tracy, along with fellow Kinesiologist Eldridge Abat, work with residents in group exercise programs and one-on-one sessions in either the community gym or in the residents’ suites.

Garrison Green Kinesiologist Heather Wiebe said United’s exercise programs are perfect for all levels. “For those residents who use our one-on-one services, they often address a specific or individual issue, like rehabilitation from a fall or surgery, or a chronic issue that may negatively impact their strength or daily functions,” said Heather.

“In some cases, we work closely with them to develop programs so they can work toward performing the exercises on their own in their suites to maintain or regain their independence. Some residents prefer to work with our Kinesiologists continuously to ensure they are always safe and doing the exercises correctly. For those who don’t require one-on-one support our group classes work very well for them. In group classes, we embed exercises that address all components of active and functional daily living while encouraging and enhancing the benefits of the social component while exercising.”

“Along with general health improvement, we often work with residents who have particular needs such as rehabilitation after a hip replacement,” said Tracy. “In these situations, we develop tailored exercise programs. This can be as simple as developing a program that strengthens their ability to sit down and get up from a chair, something many of us take for granted. “

Tracy noted that their work with seniors is ongoing. “They know from experience that getting active and staying mobile takes time, effort and commitment. It’s intuitive. Residents know that staying physically active is important.”

A prescription for an active lifestyle can be gratifying for Kinesiologists and residents alike, as they see and feel continuous improvements. “We’ll often see someone progress from using a walker to using a cane because their balance and strength have improved. Or we’ll suggest a resident change their electric wheelchair for a manually operated one to ensure they maintain upper body strength and mobility.”

Celebrating aging and the benefits of active living at any age is the focus of Active Aging Week, which runs October 3 to 9. It was initiated by the International Council on Active Aging, of which United Active Living is a proud member. As a host venue for the week, United Active Living is raising awareness about the importance of physical activity and offering older adults a variety of wellness activities in a supportive environment, many of which they may not have tried before.

“One of our activities is a Masters Fitness Challenge, which encourages residents to participate in 150 minutes of physical activity during the week,” said Heather. “The 150 minute goal comes from Health Canada’s recommendations, a target that older adults should try to achieve each week in order to experience continued health benefits. Through the week, United Active Living will lead a number of engaging initiatives including participation in the national Alzheimer’s Walk, line dancing, indoor golf, yoga and carpet bowling.”

“It’s all about building awareness, having fun and continuing down the road of physical strength and wellness,” said Tracy.

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Garrison Green by United Active Living a retirement community located in Calgary, Alberta.
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