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University of Regina researcher helps seniors age in place

News Release Release Date: September 30, 2016 9:15 a.m.

An older adult falling through the cracks of the healthcare system, finding themselves isolated, and on a steady physical decline often also means that they will be forced to forsake their independence and their homes, says Dr. Shanthi Johnson, professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies and research faculty at the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU).

This is a common scenario that Johnson says many families can relate to – and one she hopes to change.

Johnson’s project involves implementing simple, progressive exercises for seniors living in their own homes.

“I was inspired by a study I was a part of in Ontario that demonstrated that performing certain exercises helped to improve physical function associated with reducing falls in seniors,” says Johnson. “My current project is aimed at improving or maintaining the health of seniors and enabling them to age in place.”

The program is delivered through the existing infrastructure of home care so it maximizes impact and sustainability. The Therapies Department at Regina Qu’Appelle Heath Region delivers the key aspect – an exercise routine for seniors living at home. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Many seniors have moved from being virtually immobile, to hosting potluck dinners and getting active again. Others in the program have shown that they recover from illness quicker and boast improved mental health and better balance, resulting in fewer falls and more confidence in navigating their daily lives,” says Johnson.

Johnson says that with the addition of a seemingly minor change, the seniors are now able to maintain their functional capacity to enable them to stay in their own homes longer.

“For these older adults, better health means they can come and go more easily, allowing them to engage with their communities in more meaningful ways. The program has made a remarkable contribution to the quality of life of participants.”

Read about Johnson’s work, and more, in the University of Regina’s new research magazine, Discourse at: www.uregina.ca/discourse.

 

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