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Ageing Gracefully

[Posted: 13 Jun 2016]

With an increasing population (projected to hit 39.7 million by 2055) and the number of over 65s expected to double over the next four decades when compared with today – in fact, some experts are even predicting medical advances will see people living in excess of 140 years – it’s no wonder ageing is on everyone’s minds.

Curtin Stadium Active Seniors

Unfortunately, research on ageing has shown that an increased number of years alive does not correlate with increased years spent in good health. So, with the prospect of many more years ahead of us, how do we go about making the most of them?

Edith, 78, and John Carter, 88, are two seniors who are doing just this. They’re two of the original members of the Curtin Stadium Active Seniors class – or as its members call it, Curtin SAS – which provides a personalised training program for seniors in a group setting to encourage social support.

“We love it,” says Edith. “People always ask what it is we do to look so fit, and we say we go to the gym twice a week and we watch what we eat.”

Rebecca Morony, the program’s exercise physiologist, says the program is designed to improve quality of life and make day-to-day living easier.
“It’s 45 minutes of an individualised exercise program and then in the last 15 minutes we do group activities – so that might be memory games, balance work or stretching,” says Morony.

“The heavy focus of the program is on strength training because as you get older your muscles waste. If you have more lean muscle mass, your strength and posture improves meaning you can do more activities day-to-day and age well.”

“It’s a program particularly developed for older people – that’s what got me,”  says John.

“The younger people, they’re more concentrated. Whereas the older people, we like to have a bit of fun and a bit of a chat.”

Morony agrees it’s the social aspect that is so integral to the program’s success.

“It encourages adherence to the program; they’re coming because their friends are coming. But it also allows people who are struggling or wanting advice to talk to each other and find out about programs and services in the community. It’s a network of support as well.”

At 26 years of age, Morony hopes that she is as active as Edith and John when she gets to their age, particularly in light of the recent projected increase in retirement ages.

“It’s so important to focus on things like health and maintaining all your functional abilities and keeping a strong mind, because how are you going to work to 75 if you start having all these medical ailments?” she asks.

“It’s a bit of a wakeup call for people to really take control of their health, because medical intervention is going to prolong your life, but just because you’re alive, it doesn’t mean you’re living”.

The Curtin Stadium Active Seniors program is open to all members of the public over the age of 50. To find out more about the program, visit the Curtin Stadium website.

Story - Yvette Tulloch

Photography - Alana Blowfield

Article from Cite Magazine, Issue 25 - Winter 2015.