You are making an improvement and recording evidence but that is sometimes considered wooly. What have we learnt from the non-medicalised model?
The famous phrase, evidence-based. This starts as a new, nervous person attending a class but quickly changes. Friendships form instantly. It is watching old friends catching up and it is as refreshing as a tonic. So what have we learned by subtly contributing to peoples lives? Why is it hard to get the full backing from health? We know we improve physicality and mental wellbeing. We also know we are adding to the support network around peoples lives.
If I told you that I was going to invite a gang of old people into a community setting and get them to share their darkest thoughts and then exercise them and watch them grow more positive then you would think I have lost the plot.
Well, I haven’t lost the plot but the aforementioned group meet up and are trailblazing exercise for older people. Not just exercising the body but the mind.
And what are we finding? What is the evidence?
We are seeing confident, strong, more steady on their feet and happy to discuss what is often considered taboo subjects. They know they will never feel alone whilst they have each other in our classes. We have fifteen years of data based on these types of classes.
So they arrive at the entrance to the community centre, often car pooling. Arriving in groups and walking down a long corridor towards their room. This is the moment the qualititve evidence starts.
Jack who is 79 had a stroke. He struggles with anxiety and depression. He has lost confidence and is terrified of falling. On this day he can not wait to show us that he is walking with sticks, not a frame and not with a carer at his arm. Not only that he is beaming. The biggest smile and utterly delighted with his progress. His mental wellness is improving.
Progress is Progress not matter how small
Jack does the same thing each week. He demonstrates subtle improvements, rarely has set backs but of course that does happen with the ageing population.
Each week, as part of their exercise sessions they demonstrate key moves that we measure. We look at movements that assist chair transfers, flexibility, shoulder movement, grip strength. We target heir heart muscles and work on their balance. All of this is wrapped in fun of course. We do the science bit. We build the evidence and track any changes.
So What Have We Learned?
Age is just a number
There is no such thing as can’t – there is always a way we can.
There is always a lesson to be learned – everyone is unique and we can refine programs based on the lessons we learn
Community is at the heart of culture change – bringing people together and out of their homes.
Technology will improve health – our future is technology. Learn to embrace it and use it to support, encourage and continue to motivate others after classes have ended. Keep sharing the evidence.
A sense of purpose – whether it is to offer a lift, or do the register, or run the phone tree in case of an emergency. Giving someone a sense of purpose can drive up positive approach to life.
Physical improvements – it wont be a statement around weight loss or physical strength but a conversation about independent living, being able to brush the back of their hair or fasten shoes.
Never give up – Both from a provider of services and a user. If it’s good, then keep going.
Blockers are there to be knocked down or moved. If you are doing a good thing it can frighten others. Never give up. Follow your dreams there is always hope.