Charity calls for better access to exercise and nutrition advice for elderly

Government figures indicate an ageing population Credit: GTV

A charity says that better access to exercise and nutrition advice for the elderly could help free up hospital beds.

Age Concern want the government to increase funding to tackle the issue of an ageing population.

Based on research done by Liverpool Hope University the charity says that better access to exercise classes and practical advice on nutrition could help reduce the need for hospitalisation for elderly people.

Age Concern quote government projections that by 2037, there will be 1.42 million more households headed by someone aged 85 or over - an increase of 161% over 25 years (Future of an Ageing Population Report, Government Office for Science, 2016).

We are reading more and more stories about older people not being allowed to leave hospital because they cannot look after themselves at home. We need to put more preventative measures in place to help people age more healthily and recover more quickly when they do find themselves in hospital

Isolation has a massive impact on older adults' overall health. That is why we are so interested in this study's focus on group activity as well as nutrition. At Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton, we see time and again that when older people live alone, their diet suffers too. A less nutritious diet and less exercise, combined with the fact that as we age we lose muscle mass, can create exactly the circumstances that lead to longer recovery times and lower levels of wellbeing and general health.

What is encouraging about this study is that it is measuring the impact of both dietary interventions and group exercise on completing everyday activities, such as walking and getting out of a chair. If, as a result of this research, we can give our service users simple advice on the small things they can do, and get more evidence to support our call for more access to group exercise for older people, we can make a massive difference to the lives of older people across the UK.

– Dil Daly, Chief Executive of Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton

Combining the right dietary regime with exercise can give us the maximum health benefits as we age. Government-funded programmes that offer practical nutritional advice, alongside opportunities to access group exercise, could actually save money in the long term. We may all be living longer, but it is important that we are living well.

– Dr Farzad Amirabdollahian, Associate Professor in Nutrition at Liverpool Hope University