What we’ve learnt about Healthy Ageing
We have been with the Village retirement group for the past 11 years and focused on working with clients 65 years and older. During this time, we have learnt a lot about Healthy Ageing and the things clients can do to lessen the impact.
When I started with the Village group, only about 10-25 research articles per week focused on older adults, which has grown to greater than 250. As clinicians at Fizzio Clinics, it’s our role to read this research, interpret it, and develop actionable interventions you can use in your daily life to improve the quality of your life.
We have learnt that ageing is hard work. Younger adults don’t believe that ageing will affect them. However, ageing comes to all of us, and the process of ageing has challenges that no one tells us about until we are older.
Working with older adults is not about curing problems; it about managing these problems and minimising their effect.
The two underlying fears of ageing
There have been two predominant concerns that have become evident. The first is mobility; losing one’s mobility, increasing the risk of falling, and not moving effectively as you once did affect our client’s confidence.
A fear of falling is directly responsible for clients becoming isolated, socially withdrawing and accelerated ageing.
“The ability to move or be moved freely and easily.”
Changes in mobility can start as early as a person’s mid-fifties; often, it’s a depth perception issue resulting in an unbalanced event that, at some level, erodes a person’s confidence. This progresses as a person ages, and one of the primary reasons is a loss of muscle mass or sarcopenia. We know some interventions slow the curve, flattening the wasting speed; however, it can’t be reversed over time.
“Sarcopenia is a syndrome characterised by progressive and generalised loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. It is strictly correlated with a physical disability, poor health and death. Risk factors for sarcopenia include age, gender and level of physical activity.”
2: Cognitive Decline
The second issue and perhaps the issues of most significant concern to older adults is cognitive decline.
Cognitive decline or mild cognitive impairment is a broad term and encompasses the entire spectrum of mild changes through dementia and Alzheimers. These changes in cognitive decline and the speed of disease progression can be controlled, in part by the lifestyle choices we make now.
Dementia describes a collection of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. It is not one specific disease.
Dementia affects thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. Brain function is affected enough to interfere with the person’s everyday social or working life.
Cognitive Decline Definition
“Cognitive decline or Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) causes a slight but noticeable and measurable decline in cognitive abilities, including memory and thinking skills. A person with MCI is at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another dementia.”
Over the coming weeks, we’ll explore the 7 pillars of ageing and the healthy lifestyle choices we can alter to help you improve the process of ageing.
Part 2: Exercise
Part 3: Sleep
Part 4: Diet and Nutrition
Part 5: Stress Management
Part 6: Mindset
Part 7: Supplements and Medicine
Part 8: Community