Through this internet scan, I have formed a better understanding of the current development and trends of physical activities for the older adults worldwide. The 3 programmes that will be mentioned have been implemented in western countries like United States of America, Canada and Australia.
For the first programme that will be discussed, it goes by the name of “Active Choices”, and is a telephone-assisted physical activities self-management programme for older adults. It is currently being implemented in eleven states in United States, Canada and Australia. This programme runs for 6 months, where older adults are provided with personalized feedback on the type of exercise choices they should make or change. They aim to slowly integrate the older adults preference of exercise into their daily routines, so as to allow to older adults to continue this practice on their own. This programme was first implemented in 2001, and their target audience are older adults aged 50 and above.
What is so unique to this programme is that there is very minimal face-to-face interactions, where the older adults only meet the instructor for a short 30 – 40 minutes for the instructor to access the current fitness of the older adults, plan the goals, and create tailored exercise plan. The older adults are then left on their own to follow the plan, where they will be called up regularly to check on their current progress and possibly improve the exercise plan. The most beneficial part of this programme is the tailored exercise plan, as it caters to the needs of each individual older adult, and personal preferences are incorporated, making the effectiveness subjective to different people. However, one limitation this could face would be the inaccuracy of self-reported exercise hours, as some older adults may be able to accurately track their exercise hours.
Healthy moves for aging well:
The second programme is called “healthy moves for aging well” and is a physical activity programme for frail older adults. This programme aims to improve their independence by trying to increase strength, flexibility and lowering fall risks, through having social workers teach the older adults how to carry out the exercise in their home. “Healthy moves for ageing well” was first implemented in 2002, and they targeted frail older adults who needed help with at least 2 activities of daily living (ADLs). Apart from those criteria, the target audience should still be able to stand unassisted and have mental status enough to follow instructions, so as to avoid danger and be able to exercise independently. The older adults are encouraged to do the exercise 3 to 5 times a week and would be called 2 to 4 times monthly for 3 months to reinforce the new lifestyle pattern.
The unique area to this programme, is that this programme is taught individually in the older adults’ home, as the target audience are frail and may not have the convenience of leaving their home regularly. The most beneficial portion of the programme is the tailored exercise to the frail older adults. Frail older adults cannot do the same exercise as average older adults with no physical disabilities, so this programme integrates two types of models in hope that it provides a better coverage for the frail older adults. They used the senior fitness test and behavior change component as basis for their exercise, so older adults can do exercise in place and the pattern will slowly be reinforced till it is incorporated into their regular routine.
The third programme is called “enhance fitness”, and is a low-cost, fall prevention physical activity programme designed for older adults. To target lowering fall risks, the exercise puts emphasis on 4 areas: cardiovascular, dynamic balance, strength training, and flexibility. Unlike the previous two programmes where the older adults can do the exercise on their own accord, this programme is held in the form of a class. They meet 3 times a week, and each session takes about an hour. The goal, like what the name suggest, is to improve fitness in terms of decreasing risks of falling. This programme was implemented in 1997 in 40 states and Columbia, targeting older adults from frail to fit.
What is so unique about this programme is that instead of sticking to a strict set of exercises, the type of exercises can be personally modified to the older adults’ abilities. This makes it so beneficial to the older adults as that allows older adults to increase their social network when they exercise in a class, at the same time, allowing them to exercise at their own pace.
Choice to be implemented in Singapore:
I believe that “enhance fitness” is the most suitable programme to be implemented in Singapore. This is due to the fact that many older adults may not like the idea of being stuck at home all day, and would prefer hanging out with their friends. At the same time, enhance fitness has slightly lower risk of failure, as the data of improvement can be tracked through every lesson by the instructor, unlike the other two which puts trust on the older adult to be independent, which seems to signify a higher risk of failure. In Singapore’s context, this can be implemented more easily, as we already have community centres which could serve as a convenient location for the older adults to travel to. Most importantly, this programme is low-cost yet able to improve fitness level and social well-being, which could serve a double function, thus greatly benefiting both the mental and physical well-being of older adults. Some risks could be the low turn up rate as some older adults may not want to pay for these programmes, and would only participate if it was free.