Science doesn’t lie, exercise simply is good for you!

We all know physical activity is important for our overall health, however a new study has strongly shown that older Australians who have higher levels of physical activity and lower sitting time have better overall physical and mental health.

The new study suggests that higher amounts of regular, moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity and lower duration of sedentary (sitting) time is associated with higher mental and physical health for older cancer survivors and older adults, in general.

The researchers are confident that this new data really amplifies the need to move more.

"The findings reinforce the importance of moving more and sitting less for both physical and mental health, no matter your age or history of cancer," said the lead investigator.

"This is especially relevant now as so many of us, particularly cancer survivors, may be staying home to avoid COVID-19 exposure, and may be feeling a little isolated or down. A simple walk or other physical activity that you enjoy may be good for your mind and body."

I’m worried about  being more active, what can I do?

It is very natural to have some concerns if you are thinking about introducing more exercise into your life, especially as an older adult! For that reason, we’ve put together some tips to get you started!

Get professional advice

Before you start any new movement, it is important to chat to your GP or talk to one of our staff at Living Strength OT on what may be appropriate for you. It’s important to get the right guidance to avoid any injuries or falls.

Change your mindset

Think about what you currently enjoy or used to enjoy doing, can you implement these activities again? Also think about any physical activities you always wanted to try but haven’t yet. 

The saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is just not true – it’s never too late to try something new and in turn it’s a great way to stimulate new pathways in the brain and even make new connections in the community.

Any movement is good movement

Exercise doesn’t have to mean running up hills or hitting the gym, simply moving can be a great place to start. 

Minimise the amount of time spent in a prolonged sitting position. Try breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible with some movements and incidental exercises (e.g., checking the letterbox).

Set yourself goals

Set goals or targets that are easily attainable aiming to meet the guidelines. The guidelines for older adults include 150 minutes of moderate - intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week AND strength and balance training twice a week.

Perhaps in the first week it is introducing a 20-minute walk, the following week make it 30 minutes. Make sure they are goals that you feel you can achieve, no need to aim for the stars right away.

Find an exercise buddy!

Think about asking a buddy to join you. You are more likely to stick with your exercise plan if you share it with someone close to you. You will also kill two birds with one stone, both of you will improve your health!

Remember we are here to help:

At Living Strength Occupational Therapy, we are passionate about helping our clients achieve more independence, better health and greater quality of life. We understand that being able to perform everyday tasks including exercise can be life-changing, we can tailor our services to each client’s needs.

As Occupational Therapists (OTs), we are trained in a broad range of health sciences to deliver a holistic approach to client care. Understanding the client first – their culture, family and values, along with their medical needs is essential in creating a detailed plan to improve real quality of life. Every person is on a different journey, and everyone has different roadblocks along the way. 

Contact our friendly team to get you started!

Introducing Barbara Luka - Director of Living Strength Occupational Therapy

Barbara is the wonderful Director of Living Strength OT. We took some time out to find out what makes Barbara tick!

What made you think about Occupational Therapy as a career?

After working in a pathology lab for several years, I found my love and drive for the Occupational Therapy profession. I wanted to assist a person improving or maintain their independence and their ability to perform their day to day activities that provides them quality of life.

How would you describe Occupational Therapy is - to someone who is unsure?

Occupational Therapy looks at all aspect of a person’s life. Occupational Therapy focus’ at improving a person function to perform their day to day tasks such as self-care task, access within their home or out in the community and assistance perform meaningful activities. This may be achieve through modifying the way the person performs the tasks, retraining and / or modifying the environment.

Has there been one memorable moment in your career?

There are many stand out moments in particular when you receive calls of gratitude from a person or the family member thank you for the service provided because I had an impact on that person life and their family.

I recall receiving a call from a client’s daughter in tear thanking me for the OT services provided to her mother who could now participate in family gathering and mobilise with the use of her electric wheelchair.

Living Strength OT - what makes it a different to others? 

Living Strength Occupational Therapy is boutique Occupational Therapy practice. The team is friendly, supportive and passionate team focusing on delivering quality work to assist our clients and their families.

What do you enjoy outside of work? 

I enjoy spending quality time with my family in particular travelling with my family.

Is there a book, movie or quote that has always resonated with you? And why?

“Knowledge is power”– It important to work within our scope and focus on the glass that is half full not empty. Stay positive.

When things get difficult or stressful what self-care steps do you take for yourself?

I slow down block out time to allow me to focus on my wellbeing. I prioritise and delegated tasks that I can be off loaded to reduce stress.

I switch off all distractions such as phone and computer and listen to music, exercise and reading a book to revive and think through steps achieve the steps required.

Does what we eat impact our memory?

According to new research, what we eat not only helps keep our bodies healthy but it also plays a huge role in keeping our minds in shape as well!

The study investigated information from over 139,000 older Australians and found that there was a strong link between certain food groups, memory loss and other chronic conditions. 

The results showed that those who consume a high level of fruit and vegetables have lower odds of developing memory loss. Interestingly, the research also went on to show that eating protein-rich food was linked to a better memory.

Other key results show that people aged over 80 who have low levels of cereal consumption are at the highest risk of prolonged memory loss.

Memory loss is one of the main early symptoms for people with dementia. Dementia being   the second highest cause of death in Australia. People living with dementia have on average between two and eight health conditions, which also play a part in speeding up cognitive and functional impairment. 

What else can you do to help prevent memory loss?

There are no guarantees that you can prevent memory loss, however there are some simple tasks you can do throughout your daily life that can help sharpen your memory and keep your overall health in good condition. 

Keep Active

By keeping your physical health in good condition, you are also helping your brain health. A healthy brain relies on good cardiovascular health. Even a few short walks throughout the day can work wonders!

Being active will also help you have a better night’s sleep. Poor sleep quality can cause memories to stay stuck in certain parts of the brain which can lead to forgetfulness and difficulty remembering names for example.

According to American sleep researcher Matthew Walker, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience:

“What we have discovered is a dysfunctional pathway that helps explain the relationship between brain deterioration, sleep disruption and memory loss as we get older. When we are young, we have deep sleep that helps the brain store and retain new facts and information but as we get older, the quality of our sleep deteriorates and prevents those memories from being saved by the brain at night.”

Challenge Your Brain

Do you love crosswords or sudoku? Mentally stimulating activities such as reading, puzzles and card games are a few ideas that can help keep your brain fit and keep memory loss at bay.

Be a Social Butterfly

Other research has shown that interacting with others can also help our memory. Social interaction helps ward off depression and stress, both of which can contribute to memory loss. So, do not put off that coffee date with a friend – now is the time to do it!

 

Our brains remain our most potent weapon and there are many little actions we can take during our daily life to keep this weapon sharp and active. Of course, if you or a loved one is struggling with memory loss or dementia, the team at Living Strength OT are here to support you in improving the quality of your daily life.

Cognitive Assessments - What are they and what to expect at Living Strength OT

At Living Strength OT we work with a number of different clients and assist them through an initial assessment called the  ‘Initial Functional Needs Assessment’.  Most of the time we do this in the client’s own home so we can get a full understanding of their lifestyle.

This might sound quite intense but it does cover an overview of how a client goes about their daily living and as we delve deeper, we can then understand what the client’s overall goals are and how we can help them achieve them as quickly as possible.

One of the activities we undertake during this initial catch up is what we call a cognitive assessment – below we will run through what this activity is and what to expect.

What is a Cognitive Assessment?

A Cognitive assessment is used to determine a person’s general thinking and reasoning abilities, also known as intellectual functioning or IQ. Intelligence testing can assess various parts of a client’s cognitive capacity.

Cognitive and neuropsychological tests can measure memory, language skills, math skills, visual and spatial skills, and other abilities related to mental functioning. This all helps us to diagnose a client's condition accurately. For example, people with Alzheimer's disease often show changes in so-called executive functions such as problem-solving, memory, and the ability to perform once-automatic tasks.

What we may look at?

  1. Verbal comprehension: understanding verbal information, thinking in words and expressing thoughts in words.
  2. Perceptual reasoning: ability to organise and reason with visual information, and to solve visual problems.
  3. Working memory: ability to retain and manipulate verbal information.
  4. Processing speed: ability to scan, process and identify information accurately.

Usually, the average score for IQ and various domains is between 90 and 109. Higher scores represent higher cognitive functioning and lower scores represent poorer cognitive functioning.

Some of the typical tests we undertake at Living Strength:

Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination III (ACE-III)
Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA)
Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE)

Should I be worried about a cognitive assessment?

Absolutely not, these tests are painless and are purely designed to give our staff the best idea of how we can support you. If you have any concerns, our team can run through each of the steps with you to help ease any concerns.

If you have any further questions about how we work through cognitive assessments, contact us today and see how we can support you or your loved one.

 

Meet Miriam

Miriam -  Occupational Therapist

Miriam makes up one part of the wonderful team at Living Strength Occupational Therapy. We wanted to take a little time out to find out more!

Miriam, what made you get into the industry?
I wanted to be in a role that was able to help people in a really practical way. I was really interested in being part of the health industry and felt that OT was the perfect position for me. I love that as an OT I am able to engage personally with each client and holistically evaluate how best I can assist them improve their independence, safety and quality of life according to their goals!

What do you believe is the best part of your daily job?
Simple - My clients. I love sitting and chatting with each person. Hearing their stories and sharing a cup of tea. I love bringing a bit of light in to their day.

What has been your work highlight to date?
Watching clients become increasingly independent with activities and tasks that have been so difficult for them previously. Whether it's helping them feel safe and confident to walk independently to their local shops or something as small as being able to open a jar of honey independently. All the little wins make such a big difference!

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We are passionate about helping our clients achieve more independence, better health and greater quality of life. We understand that being able to perform the everyday tasks can be life-changing so we tailor our services to each patient’s individual needs.

As Occupational Therapists (OTs), we are trained in a broad range of health sciences in order to deliver a holistic approach to patient care. Understanding the client first, their culture, family and values, along with their medical needs, is essential in creating a detailed plan for real quality of life.

If you would like to book in some time to see if we can support you through wonderful OTs like Miriam - please click here and speak to one of our friendly team.