Fernhill House’s activity programme helps improve wellbeing
NHS advice on keeping healthy for over 65s is being embraced by Fernhill House.
And the latest proof of the efficacy of an active lifestyle is the media stardom of its 94-year-old resident turned specialist activity adviser.
Lifelong keep fit enthusiast Marian Hill, who enjoyed her fifteen minutes of fame on a recent BBC Hereford and Worcester broadcast about the home, recently became the oldest person in the country to join a team of staff to help run regular Seated Physical Activity sessions for her fellow residents.
The sessions are aimed at enabling participants to become more physically active, maintain mobility and prolong independence and can make a real difference to their ability to perform everyday activities such as getting dressed, brushing their hair, lifting a cup or simply moving about.
More vigorous activities are also on offer at Fernhill House – with the aim of enabling residents to have fun as well as keep fit. A weekly exercise class helps keep the brain as well as the body active, alternative treatments such as sound therapy and reiki provide mental and emotional relaxation, crafts fire the imagination and get the fingers moving and the brain is stimulated with quizzes and games.
Fernhill House also has a sensory garden within its two acre grounds and grows plenty of wholesome veg – and residents are encouraged to help out with planting, harvesting and watering. An indoor potting shed helps keep brain and fingers nimble. Recent weeks have seen musicians, celebrity speakers from Radio 4 and a small menagerie of animals visit the home.
Numerous reports highlight the benefits of regular physical activity in older age, which can help maintain bone mass; improve sleep, balance, mental ability and circulation; strengthen muscles; reduce the risk of dementia; increase happiness; reduce aches and pains and help the participant live longer.
The NHS Choices website gives detailed age appropriate advice on activities to maximise physical and mental wellbeing.
“Evidence shows that there is a link between being physically active and good mental wellbeing. It can help people with mild depression, and evidence shows that it can also help protect people against anxiety. It is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood. Some scientists think that being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge,” it says.
Over 65s who are generally fit and have no mobility limiting health conditions are advised by the NHS to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or walking every week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, alongside strength exercises on two or more days a week which work all the major muscles - legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.
Older people are also advised to break up long periods of sitting with light activity, as sedentary behaviour is now considered an independent risk factor for ill health. Older adults at risk of falls are advised to do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week. Examples include yoga, tai chi and dancing.