According to the US Census Bureau, adults age 65 years and older are now the largest and fastest growing segment of our population – predicted to increase from 12% now to 20% by the year 2030. And incredibly, the number of seniors aged 85 and older will more than double, to as many as 8.5 million.
Because more Americans are living longer, and the growth of our older adult population will increase exponentially, it is important to have a better understanding of older adults and their activity levels. It is well known that exercise/activity limitations increase as we age, but research also supports that higher levels of physical activity can delay the progression of chronic health conditions and physical disability. Additionally, it is well documented that regular activity and exercise actually reduce the risk of falling in the elderly, and as we have reported earlier, falls can result in long-term activity limitations and also death.
And yet, in spite of all the evidence pointing to the benefits of regular exercise in the elderly, the rate of exercise in adults 65 and older is the lowest of all age groups. Less than 10% of older adults report that they participate in any regular vigorous active, while more than 40% say they engage in no physical activity at all.
Identifying and addressing the barriers to physical activity in the elderly will be important in improving the health in this growing population. The notable benefits of exercise, and the impact of physical inactivity on our community and our elders, are of growing importance to all of us, including family caregivers as well as those who provide home care services.
The CDC offers much information on exercise and the elderly. Barriers to exercise cited by the CDC include:
- Poor health
- Lack of time or motivation
- Perceived inability
- Adverse environments
- Social concerns
- Fear of pain
The site also includes information on addressing these barriers to help our older adults transition from an inactive lifestyle to a healthier, more active one.
Of course, your elder loved one’s excuse or barrier to lack of regular exercise is the one that is of primary importance to you! This general list provided by the CDC will help you identify what barrier or barriers your loved one perceives to be his or her limitation. You can then enlist the help of his or her physician to work towards overcoming those barriers.
Our Phoenix home care services can help tremendously as well, by ensuring your loved one gets the exercise needed to improve health and mobility and ensure activity levels are maintained. Call us at 602-504-1555 to learn more about our customizable senior care solutions.