As Britain’s population is getting older and our golden years are getting longer, Tonight looks at how we can improve our health and well-being in later life.
In the 1960’s only one in ten Brits were aged over 65 but by 2050, over half a million Brits will be over 100 - compared to just 15,000 today.
A huge part of the NHS’s budget already goes on caring for the elderly our ageing population will continue to put a large burden on our already stretched National health system.
Research suggests loneliness and lack of exercise is one of the big causes of poor health in pensioners.
Tonight takes five willing senior citizens on a special OAP Bootcamp to help investigate the benefits of keeping active into old age and investigates if we can potentially decrease reliance on NHS services by looking after our mental and physical health.
Between them our 'Bootcampers' suffer from a number of the ailments which can be common in later life including diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis.
Before Bootcamp commences our volunteers are given a health MOT by Dr James Brown at Aston University’s Centre for Healthy Ageing.
What we know about physical activity and ageing is that the more physically active you are, the more you’re going to maintain your muscle mass and muscle quality. That means you’ll be able to move around, get up out of your chairs, safely, and this is going to reduce your risk of falls. It’s going to prevent a vicious cycle down towards frailty and inactivity.
First up, our Bootcampers hit to the gym with two time bodybuilding champion and Britain’s oldest personal trainer 74 year old Eddy Diget. Eddy teaches them it’s never too late to get active in the gym.
If you’ve got any level of fitness before you go into an operation, or after the operation, you have much better results in recuperation and rehab. If you go in there reasonably fit, you’ve got a very good fighting chance to come out better.
During Bootcamp our OAPs take a trip to the Birmingham Royal Ballet where they are given a surprise ballet dancing lesson.
As we reach old age it is easy to lose interest in cooking, especially for elderly people who live on their own. Our Bootcampers take part in a cookery class aimed at showing them how cooking a nutritious protein rich meal doesn’t have to be hard work.
And after all it’s often said that laughter keeps us young. The Bootcampers finish their week with a laughter yoga session. Dubious at first they are soon won over!
You can change your mental attitude, through the laughter, so that things that would normally have got you down, and got you angry, you can just laugh and shrug off. If they could actually do ten to fifteen minutes of laughter every single day, they will eventually start seeing a lot of benefits.
So what did the Bootcampers think?
The Tonight OAP Bootcamp only lasted one week but the evidence shows that our team of older people are capable of making some real changes to their health and well-being.
“I know people who are very very fit physically… but mentally they have lost a lot that they had. And, [to] really, really keep your brain ticking over… you’ll only do that if you keep busy and do something that you like.”
“My week at bootcamp I thoroughly enjoyed, but we thoroughly enjoyed every minute of what we did so the motto is keep fit, and keep laughing.”
“I made some new friends, and I think it was a wonderful thing to do and I shall take a lot out of it, I think.”
“I think when you start telling yourself you are too old to do something, you’ve had it. You’ve got to open your eyes up get out of your chair and do whatever you can do, don't limit yourself.”
“Just get out of the house and do something… you know… you’ll live a long time.”