11 Best Exercises for the Elderly

The best exercises for those over 75 years wise. 

As the winter season hits, it’s good to get the blood flowing and keep the body warm with light exercise. This goes double for elderly Australians who arguably benefit more from good exercise more than other age groups.  

So, let’s discuss all the benefits of continuing to exercise as you get older and the different ways that you can get your heart rate up safely and healthily. Because age shouldn’t be a barrier to quality of life! 

Benefits of exercising 

Let’s quickly go through some of the benefits of exercise before we tell you the best ways to keep fit.  

  • Exercise is a great way to maintain or build muscle. Retaining strength is difficult for older Australians on diet alone, so a bit of light exercise is perfect for keeping fit.  
  • Maintaining and controlling weight. A lot of us lose or gain weight as we age which can be stressful.  
  • Develop a better sense of balance and prevent the risk of falls. Regular exercise keeps you standing upright and can even improve your posture.  
  • It’s great for mental health. Often after a work-out, you will feel a rush of endorphins from exercise as well as a sense of accomplishment for doing something productive. Would highly recommend.
  • Exercise is one of the natural ways to reduce symptoms of dementia. It helps prevent strokes and other medical complications that can cause cognitive impairment, as well as controlling (and reducing) chronic disease symptoms 

Some helpful tips for exercise 

Sport is very good for us, but it’s hard to get started and it’s even harder to keep up the habit! Here are some simple bits of advice to make being healthy simpler and that little bit easier on all of us.  

  • Start slow and use the first 5 minutes of exercise to warm up the joints and get the body ready for something more strenuous.
  • Do exercise in the morning or afternoon. Establish exercise as a habit and embed it in your routine. This will help you keep it up for the long term.
  • Make your exercise more social and do exercises in groups. This can mean walking with a group of friends (after COVID restrictions are lifted of course), digitally connecting during Pilates or signing up to an exercise class.  
  • Sit in a comfy chair. It sounds counterproductive to sit down when exercising, but this can be very beneficial to those who struggle doing exercise standing and keep balance. Sitting down will help you remain upright while you build up a sweat. This is very useful for elderly Australians who might not feel as confident standing. 

(Finally!) The exercises themselves 

It is important to remember to stop exercising at the first sign of pain. Do not push yourself if you are experiencing sensations of dizziness, feelings of nausea, or if you are seeing spots. Do not push yourself and consult your doctor if you are recovering from any injuries or illnesses.  

Those who are 65+ with no medical or health issues are recommended by Health Direct to exercise regularly, even daily

  1. Stretching. According to Active Health, stretching helps develop better flexibility to keep falls and muscle pains at bay. They also list a bunch of exercises that you can do to keep those joints loose. 
  1. Tai Chi. This is a very popular exercise with older age groups, and for good reason. It builds strength, flexibility and balance. It is also great for improving your mood and acts as a sort of physical meditation. Best of all? Tai Chi’s popularity means that there are many community groups available who run classes and online videos that you can join.  
  1. Walking. Light walking is commonly recommended for older Australians who want to exercise as an easy cardio exercise that anyone can do. If you want, this can be arranged to be done in groups or by yourself. We suggest you walk on flat ground with smooth paths and on trails that have a great view to get the best out of your workout.  
  1. Video games, Wii. If you still have a Wii console, grab that thing out of the closet and dust it off. Video games like the Nintendo Wii that involve big gestures and movement are a fun way to engage spatial awareness and involve a great deal of physical movement. This is something that can be done with the grandchildren as well, making it a fun social event. The University of Montreal also found that video games have other benefits for seniors, including simulating parts of the brain that deal with reactions time and spatial awareness.
  1. Chair routines. This is convenient for those who have trouble standing or are recovering from an injury or illness. Many exercise companies are offering up chair exercise programs like silent discos that can be done in the safety and convenience of your own home. 
  1. Yoga. Like stretching but with a calming effect on the mind and soul. Yoga is good for older Australian’s because it involves flexibility and strength.
  1. Lightweight training. This is good for those with some light weights lying around the house. As we get older, we start to lose some muscle fibre. So, using light weights can help maintain our muscle and help increase our strength and endurance.   
  1. Dancing. Good for those with music in them or even those with two left feet. Dancing involves coordination, rhythm and spirit so it’s great exercise. One study found that dancing has the same results as walking, stretching and toning in those aged 60-79 years old. There are different styles for anyone to enjoy, so pick your favourite from a gentle waltz to energic Zumba classes. 10 minutes of dancing at regular intervals are recommended to get the best out of this exercise.  
  1. Water Aerobics and aqua jogging. Water sports are great for getting the heart rate up without putting a strain on the body.  Water’s buoyancy takes the pressure off joints and also acts as a form of resistance to make you work! Water aerobics is often offered in local classes for older Australians, but if a group activity just doesn’t sound like you then consider aqua-jogging. While it may have a funny name, aqua-jogging is simply jogging or water up and down a pool. Simple but a lot more strenuous than it sounds. This is perfect if you have your own pool! 
  1. Stability ball training. Perfect for developing and maintaining core strength and balance. Open Fit states that stable joints are less prone to injury and falls, and stability ball training can train every part of your body. There are plenty of online tutorials and classes on using these balls that can be done in the convenience of your own home.  
  1. Golf.  First things first. This is golf without using a cart; the walk is half the journey here! We are aiming to get a decent cardio work out. Golf is perfect for those wanting to walk, but they want a little more purpose to their exercise. Not only are you walking to find that pesky little white golf ball, but you get to reward yourself at the end with a cool drink at the golf club. Currently, golf is not an option with COVID-19 restrictions. However, as we ease out of this time, golf serves as a nice way to get back into social activities and connect with others while remaining active.  

If you want some more information, the Australian Government Department of Health has some excellent tips for Australians (65 years and older) here.

The elderly and sexuality: Keeping it sexy.

Sexuality is a crucial part of ageing.

There are a lot of stereotypes about the elderly being beyond sexuality and the need to feel attractive. But this could not be further from the truth.

Sexuality is a large part of who we are as people, and this doesn’t stop as we get older.

Reinforcing someone’s sexuality in their later years is very important. It is crucial to give women the option to feel pretty, and men to feel handsome. Make sure that they feel seductive and desirable. And allow them to become the silver foxes and vixens that they truly are.

However, in carer situations, the ability for older people to express themselves in these ways become limited. It is up to carers and family members to acknowledge the elderly as people who should have the opportunity to have a sexual identity.

WHY BEING SEXY IS IMPORTANT

Sexuality is critical for people to retain a positive sense of identity and self-value. It is a basic human need to feel good about ourselves. It is important to look and feel glamorous – to be a little bit sensuous.

Many elderly people are single. Some with partners who have passed on, and a large percentage of those entering aged care who do not have a partner. Many older Australians are seeking a romantic interest within their local community or care facility.

So a nice hair cut now and then, or a good shave, shows that they are still out there and looking for love. Ensure people have the option to put on nice jewelry. Buy a tailored outfit. Go shopping. Let them choose their own clothing for an expression of style.

Simple activities like this allow the elderly a better quality of life, a better sense of personal identity and healthier interpersonal relationships.

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEXUALITY

As odd as it sounds, it is important to talk to older people about their sex life and sexuality. Having an open communication about their wants and needs will help you address anything troubling them or look at things that they could be missing. It shows that you are respecting them. Recognise sex and sexuality as something meaningful and important in their lives.


Ensure the elderly have means to show their sexuality.

Discuss it with other people – like friends and family – to normalise the conversation and create a greater awareness.

Some quick tips for talking with residents about sexiness and their sex lives:

  • Start on general topics and process gently to specific subjects of sexuality
  • Use open ended questions which encourage responses
  • Be non-judgmental
  • Respect responses
  • Be receptive to clues

Yes. We do have to acknowledge that it will be a little strange at first. But starting these conversations like these will have a big impact on their everyday lives.

The ability for the elderly to present themselves sexually in their day-to-day life is an essential part of people’s identity but is often ignored.

If you want to read more about this topic, then I would recommend the following by HelloCare and Mental Health.org.

The Importance of Nutrition for Older Australians

By 7th October, 2019 Community, Health, Helpful Information Comments Off

A look into how nutrition for older Australians guarantees better health in aged care and how to promote this.

This article will talk about:

  • 1. Nutrition & Dementia
  • 2. Nutrition & Dignity
  • 3. Nutrition & Mental Health
  • 4. Nutrition & Weight Loss + Injury Prevention
  • BONUS! Quick Summary
Nutrition in aged care is an essential part of ensuring a healthy mind and body for older Australians.

Eating right is a fundamental part of our health, and it becomes even more important so as we grow older. It takes up a large portion of our day and has a huge influence on our physical and mental health.

So, here are the ways in which food can affect the lives of older Australians and ways to promote it.

1. Nutrition & Dementia

As they say – healthy body, healthy mind!

General health is becoming a critical part of tackling dementia, and that includes what people are eating as well.

Avoiding fatty or sugary foods that cause high cholesterol levels or blood pressure is very important to maintaining a healthy heart and mind and reducing the chances of strokes and heart attacks that can deteriorate brain health.

Older Australians with dementia or other diagnoses can also be at risk of becoming malnourished. It is vital to be aware of issues that may occur when looking after them. People living with dementia at home can often forget mealtimes, and what they have eaten before. They can develop problems chewing or swallowing their food and even be unable to recognise food and drinks they are given. These factors can lead to further deterioration of health and mental functioning.

However, aged care facilities are able to recognise the extra care needed to support residents with dementia.

  • There plenty of training programs – like Dementia training Australian – available to educate staff and carers about what they should expect and know to watch out for.

2. Nutrition & Dignity

Food (while being delicious and nutritious!) presents an opportunity to promote the dignity and independence of older Australians.

Older Australians in carer situations can suffer loss of independence during meal times with carers scheduling strict eating times, serving food that people need assistance eating or simply cooking something they do not like.

However, food provides opportunities for celebration and socialization that contributes to a lot to how we live our lives. There are plenty of ways to do this for residents in carer situations.

  • Make mealtimes more warm and casual by allowing people the time and space they want during their meals.
  • Creating a friendly eating environment means that people are likely to sit for longer and eat more. This will help avoid issues like malnourishment
  • Do not restrict food to set meal times, and have food available at all times. Small snacks like fruit, muesli bars, and yoghurt should be made accessible for whenever people are hungry (and avoid older residents becoming irritable and ‘hangry’).
  • Promote independence at mealtimes by providing finger food for those who are struggling with cutlery. This will give people the ability to feed themselves instead of needing their carers to assist them. It is important that people have the option to do things for themselves for as long as possible

Use these times to ensure dignity and choice so mealtimes can become empowering for those involved.

Good nutrition and simple food choices can be empowering for older Australians in aged care and care situations.

3. Nutrition & Mental Health

Malnourishment can often lead to lower energy levels in older Australians, causing less engagement with daily activities and social interaction. All of this can affect overall mental health, including links to anxiety and depression.

 However, the solution can be as simple as having a nice meal with friends and family.

  • Have special ‘food events’ at home that spice up routine meal plans. This can be for a birthday or even national food-themed nights and is an excellent way to encourage eating. It establishes a festival mood and creates a more enthusiastic kitchen.
  • Buffet food is an exciting way to offer people freedom of choice with what they want to eat.

4. Nutrition & Weight Loss + Injury Prevention

It is very common for older Australians to lose weight when aging in a carer situation. Unfortunately, there is a cultural belief that this weight loss is normal – or even desired – for older Australians.

However, once an older person becomes malnourished it becomes more difficult for them to recover to a state of health.

Malnourishment can severally impact the everyday lives of residents. It increases the risks of falls, pressure ulcers, and even delirium. It slows down the healing process for injury recovery. And it can further degrade the lifestyle of residents already living with disabilities and dementia.

There needs to be an overall culture change when caring for the aged in order to tackle the issue.

  • Watch and become familiar with the amounts people in your care are eating and see if this is enough to ensure their health. Pay attention to make sure that they are receiving proper nutrition and food intake.
  • Consult the older person, other members of family or dieticians. Decide the best approach to take together and create a strategy that works for everyone involved.

At no point should anyone be ‘force-feed’ or pressured to eat more. It is vital that you make sure to always respect the independence of residents.

This creates a non-invasive way to approach the issue and steer behaviour towards more beneficial ones, not just tackling the issue superficially, but getting the support of family and friends for a better solution.

Promoting nutrition within aged care will involve a culture change within the kitchen.

BONUS! Quick Summary

For those who are time-poor (or skim reading), here is a quick summary of what carers can do to promote nutrition.

  • Talk to the person, ask them what type of food they want to eat and when they want to eat it. This will help establish their independence and exercise their freedom of choice which will improve their lifestyle as a whole.
  • Talk to friends and families, this is a good way of establishing what their old eating habits were like and detecting any major changes.
  • Consult dieticians, sometimes a professional voice is best when it comes to health. This is especially true if there are any dietary requirements or if injury recovery is involved.
  • Include buffet food, this does not have to be an everyday thing, but an occasion buffet selection allows older persons ultimate freedom in the food they are eating.
  • Make meals more social, by making mealtimes more friendly and engaging people are more likely to sit for longer and eat more. Consider having carers, family or friends join and sit with the person to build relationships and create a friendly eating environment.
  • Include finger foods, for those living with dementia and other cognitive disabilities, this is a way to retain independence when tools like knives and forks can’t be used
  • Celebrate birthdays and festivals with food, a nice way to ensure that food becomes something fun for older Australians and those cooking. Party occasions also are a nice way to diversify food menus and mix up routine menus.

If you want any more information, there are some great tips for promoting health and dignity with food from the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

15 Benefits of Volunteering

With busy lives, it can be hard to find time to volunteer. However, the benefits of volunteering are enormous to you, your family, and the community. For some volunteers it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge.

Here are 15 benefits of volunteering.

1. Lowers stress and anxiety

Volunteering is said to be a great way to deal with stress and anxiety that affect so many. Vice says that this is mainly to do with busyness being a great distraction and barrier to negative thoughts and feelings. Volunteering also hold opportunity for plentiful social contact which can put people in a good mood.

2. Supporting those who need it

Those who volunteer help the community as a whole. You are working in the areas that need it most for the people who need it most. Time spent supporting not-for-profit organisations and services is often desperately wanted, and this sense of value from your work will be felt not by yourself but those around you in the larger neighbourhood.

3. Learning relevant skills

There are a tonne of skills associated with volunteer work that will be beneficial for both work and life opportunities. Seek has stated that volunteers are known to have essential (and industry recognised) skills, like the ability to work well in a group environment, problem solve, lead groups, work under pressure and time management. This is also complimented by more niche talents that some training programs include, like first aid, organisational management, and IT know-how. All this builds to create a comprehensive skill set that is useful for anyone is almost any situation!

4. Increases confidence

Volunteering in general will give you a sense of self-worth and pride in your everyday life. Doing good work for good people installs pride and will make you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.

Volunteering also often involves taking on extra responsibility and tasks – which will build your confidence in managing multiple projects. You will trust yourself more and develop yours skills in difference and sometimes challenging environments.

5. Making new friends

Volunteering is not only something to do with a friend, but a way of making friends, no matter your age.

It is a great way to introduce yourself to new social circles and make new connections. Helpguide.org describes it as a way of actively meeting and introducing yourself to other people. There is a likemindedness in individuals supporting not-for-profit organisations and often you will find similar passions in the volunteers around you. Despite the variety of backgrounds and personalities of volunteers, they are almost guaranteed to be incredibly kind and looking to make friends during the volunteering process.

6. Gain a physically active lifestyle

With such a focus on health these days, it’s a surprise that volunteering is not being promoted as an excellent source of wellbeing.

Live Science says that volunteers have been found to live longer and have generally healthier lives. This is because they walk more on average and carry out more physical chores. However, even those who work in less active roles receive this health boost, by developing a higher degree of mental flexibility in their ability to handle multiple complex operations.

Volunteering can give you a sense of purpose and productivity

7. Brings a sense of purpose

This is perfect for those looking to have more meaning in their lives. It is an easy way to do good in your spare time, and make a different to those around you while also adding a sense of direction to your life.

8. Good for the resume

Volunteering is the perfect way to make your resume stand out for a potential employer at any stage of your career journey. It is a great way of showing that you have a good sense of character, compassion and actively work in a team.

According to ENHANCV, 82% of hiring professionals prefer applicants with volunteer experience. It means that the applicant is driven by social god and that they have more skills than simple, task related ones.

9. Gain new experiences

Volunteering allows you to meet people and do things that you would been exposed to be. Volunteering lets you hear fascinating life stories, work with enthusiastic and passionate people and shape people’s lives for good.

These new experiences allow you to witness the lives of others and can be powerful memories that shift your perspectives of life.

10. Embracing passions

Volunteers are able to bring their unique talents and interests to other people’s lives. Organisations, like us at Twilight, have had great success from volunteers indulging in interests like art and gardening and engaging residents in these activities.

11. Fosters community growth

It has been found that communities with a strong volunteer network help community growth. Since volunteers literally help the community by filling in the gaps in funding and resources. NSW Volunteering has stated its benefits in promoting overall health in the local area, saying that volunteers “make an extraordinary contribution to Australian society” and are the “lifeblood of our community.”

12. Builds social skills

Communications skills are a necessity in our modern day. And volunteering is not only good to make friends and also have fun, but can help you later in industry work and everyday life.

Diverse Voices, says that volunteering is the perfect setting to practice ad develop social skills, not matter if you are an extrovert or an introvert.

13. Growing your reference network

A reference from a not-for-profit organisation can speak more about your character than a family member or an old employer.

Volunteering also generates good word about you within the community and with specific businesses while connecting you with industry personalities.

Volunteering is a perfect opportunity to bring care and compassion to people’s lives.

14. Creates internship and employment opportunities

Volunteering can builds skills, as well as placing you in an environment that may lead to career opportunities.

Monster says that volunteering is a perfect stepping stone to employment and will add professional experience to your resume.

15. Makes you happier

If you have ever volunteered, you may have noticed that you felt fantastic afterward. Maybe you saw a little boost in your mood, or enjoyed being part of a team.

It is the perfect way to escape from the routine of retirement, work, university or school and accomplishment so much than you could alone.


How to Volunteer?

Twilight has revitalised its volunteer program which includes a comprehensive orientation, training and handbook. Each of the homes is fortunate to have several volunteers and we are always happy to welcome new members into our community.  If you are interested in volunteering with Twilight Aged Care please contact our Volunteer Coordinator on 02 9414 4400 or email: volunteer@twilight.org.au[/vc_column_text]

5 Natural Ways to Slow Dementia Symptoms

By 27th February, 2019 Health, Helpful Information Comments Off

Dementia is one of the most heart breaking conditions that can affect the ones we love. Supporting those who are showing the signs and symptoms of dementia and knowing how to help them can be extremely difficult.

However, there are a few simple changes that can assist in slowing these symptoms.

1. Be more active

Studies have shown that even light exercise like going for walks, moving about the house and doing daily chores are able to simulate people and improve their cognitive functions.

(We do not necessarily mean pumping weights or attending the over 60s CrossFit class).

This relationship between higher levels of daily motion and dementia has been explored by US and Brazilian scientists. They identified those living with dementia lack a protein called Irisin that is generated during exercise. Irisin was found to improve recall and generate neuron growth in the brain in people who are active over 30 minutes a day.

Studies like these are now showing that general health is extremely for individuals with symptoms of dementia. Most risk factors are linked to brain function are related to good health; so maintaining – (or gaining) – a healthy lifestyle is a great combatant.

2. Keep the mind sharp

Some people participating in art-based cognitive therapy

Now we have discussed keeping the body active, it’s time to address the mind!

Intellectual stimulation is most commonly praised by the scientific community and, well… we’re here to praise it as well.

Little things like puzzles, word games and Sudoku have been found to be highly successful in slowing down signs of dementia. They present small challenges that engage the mind and improve mental function.

Recently, cognitive art-based activities have been hailed for their therapeutic qualities. Art is uniquely able to stimulate those with dementia both technically and mentally. While most of us have subpar art skills- this is something fun for everyone involved and the results can look spectacular.

3. Watch what you eat

‘Watching what you eat’ does not mean forcing kale or superfoods on anyone. No one is cruel enough to insist that.

As mentioned before, general health is becoming a critical part of tackling dementia; and that includes what people are eating as well.

Maintaining healthy blood glucose, cholesterol levels and blood pressure are small steps that can make the biggest difference to the wellbeing of a loved one.

You’ll find that a lot of things good for the heart are good for the brain as well. By minimising the food ‘no-nos’ – like saturated fats- you lower the likelihood of health issues that can accelerate or spark dementia.

Reducing cardiovascular risk factors can prevent medical conditions linked to dementia. People are who are unfortunate enough to suffer a stroke are more likely to develop dementia- particularly vascular dementia.

You can help by choosing healthier places to eat out when getting together with friends and family, shopping at farmers markets or having a family home-made meal with a few more vegetables thrown in.

4. Getting rid of bad habits…. and staring good ones.

It’s easy to get stuck in a ‘bad’ routine. Smoking, frequent drinking, or going to bed late are all little cheats that we think we can get away with.

But habits like these place small stresses on the heart and mind that generate bad health and can lead to – or cause problems that bring on – dementia.

However, conquering these gives us a chance develop healthier practices that can help naturally slow down symptoms of dementia.

Developing patterns of behaviour to combat memory loss is one of the most helpful things you can do. Start keeping lists of things to be done and people that you have recently met. Start writing a diary of what was done that day. Have certain special spots for objects like keys and glasses.

5. ‘Spill the tea’ or have a day out

Daughter showing her mother photos on her phone

Recent studies from The Alzheimer’s Society has found that a chat with friends or family is more beneficial than just a bit of a gossip.

Their research discovered that social interaction is the perfect foil to the loneliness related to increases of cognitive decline. The physical benefits are also apparent, as group interaction visibly lowers stress levels and blood pressure.

Family outings, lunch with friends, special events, and group and pet therapy have all been observed to maintain independence and mentally stimulate. New technologies have also brought the option of digital media; one of the best ways for them to be connected to the people who love them at all times.

If you or someone you know is suffering from dementia, you can contact Dementia Australia for more information or support at https://www.dementia.org.au/

Staying Healthy in the Cooler Months

When it’s cold it’s really hard to stay motivated about your health and fitness!! We tend to take on a “Snuggle up” mentality, we eat more and we do less – human hibernation!

We have some tips to keep you motivated during these colder months.  Staying active especially during the cooler the months is good for the mind, body and spirit.

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Influenza

Here we are in March and a quarter of the way through the year. 2018 appears to be fast slipping away and Flu season is on the horizon.

Each year here at Twilight, we take this season very seriously as it can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of our residents and staff.

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The Importance of Palliative Care

Australia’s population is continuing to age and the demand for palliative care services is rapidly increasing. As a nation, we are struggling to meet the growing need for specialised resources in palliative medicine, a topic that has been highlighted in recent news media.

Palliative Care Australia has revealed that only one palliative medicine specialist is available for every 704 deaths each year. Concerningly, this means that people are not receiving the care that they desire and deserve at the end of their lives, and some are passing on in discomfort and fear instead of peace and dignity.

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