Active bid to help older people to avoid loneliness
Posted: Thu, 20 Dec 2018 15:15
A new technology-based scheme to help older people to be more active and avoid the risk of loneliness and social isolation is being piloted in Babergh and Mid Suffolk.
The Active Technology project gives over 50-year-olds the chance to increase their physical activity levels and to monitor their progress with a wristband fitness tracker. The aim is to encourage those living in rural areas to make positive lifestyle choices to improve their physical, social and mental wellbeing.
Suffolk Sport is rolling out the 12-month self-care project in partnership with Abbeycroft Leisure Centre (ALC), which has venues in the region, and with the support of the Eastern Academic Health Science Network (Eastern AHSN), which is funding the fitness trackers.
After a GP or self-referral, participants meet with an Active Wellbeing adviser who can assess their strength, mobility and aerobic fitness and recommend suitable physical activities and classes for that individual. They then register with an ALC venue and can monitor their own progress via a wristband, which tracks markers such as their activity log, heartrate and body composition.
By using a free smartphone app, the adviser can remotely monitor whether they are reaching their goals and, if necessary, send texts to encourage them to do more or praise them for their achievements.
At six and 12-week intervals, participants are invited to join group activity sessions at various community locations, after which they can buy the fitness tracker at a reduced price and access a range of other benefits.
According to Public Health England regular physical activity can help to reduce the risk of dementia by up to 30%, hip fractures by up to 68%, and depression by up to 30% and prevent and manage over 20 other chronic conditions. General levels of physical activity among older adults are low, but these levels drop further as people progress through old age and are often even lower amongst those living alone.
Sarah Nolasco, Eastern AHSN project lead, said: "We are pleased to support the Active Technology project which is designed to empower older people to improve their health and wellbeing. Using innovative technology, they have the chance to be at the centre of their own care and to feel part of a wider community."
Ben Jackson, Senior Development Officer for Health and Wellbeing at Suffolk Sport, said: "We are delighted to be working alongside Eastern AHSN and ALC. Suffolk Sport is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people across the county, inspiring everyone to be more active. We aspire to be innovative and this new project will support people to become more active through the use of technology. It will also complement our existing Active Wellbeing Service with Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils."