The chief executive of a national live-in care provider is calling for the launch of a nationwide exercise programme to help get older people moving again and protect them from falls.
Angela Gifford, CEO of Able Community Care, has expressed concerns that there will be an increase in the number of elderly admissions to hospital to repair broken bones over the coming months, due to a reduction in their mobility caused by staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
She warns that the cost to the NHS budget will be significant if older people aren’t supported to leave their homes and get some exercise.
“The Government message was clear, if you are over 70 stay at home, self-isolate and reduce the risk of catching what could, for older people be a fatal virus,” she said.
“Millions of older people have done just that – stayed in their homes and continue to do so. They have their shopping delivered and have reduced their social activity to the phone and the internet.”
Gifford added: “Exercise has become non-existent. Not the personal trainer type of exercise, but by walking with a trolley around the local shop or supermarket, for example.
“As a result, the mobility of hundreds of thousands of older people has been greatly reduced. The lack of exercise has also brought on a new fear – the fear of falling. Consequently, many older people are no longer feeling confident about going out on their own.
“It is likely that in the coming months there will be an increase in the number of elderly admissions to hospital for the repair of broken bones.”
Gifford has called for the launch of a publically-funded programme for frail, older people, offering exercises that will help them build their confidence, increase their mobility and reduce the risk of falling.
“Health centres could easily identify their older, less mobile patients and send a couple of pages of gentle exercises to encourage movement. Health visitors for the elderly could make phone calls to advise,” the CEO suggested.
“We need a national exercise program for older people to begin now. The slogan Stay Home and Protect the NHS now needs to be adjusted for our older population to Help Our Older People to Leave Home and Protect the NHS.”
Image credit: ExtraCare Charitable Trust.