Older patients at the Royal Free Hospital were encouraged to get out of bed and do what they love as part of International Day for Older Persons celebrations this week. 

Elderly care wards hosted exercise classes on Tuesday 1 October with inflatable footballs for patients to kick and throw around and a series of easy-to-perform arm and leg exercises to promote the importance of exercise and socialising in old age. 

One of the organisers, Cristina Manalad, physiotherapist and therapy team lead for health services for elderly people (HSEP) said: “This event is an extension of the work we are already doing to promote and encourage elderly patients to keep moving and get fit. We wanted to celebrate them, give back to them, celebrate their lives and achievements while noting the importance of exercise and socialising.”

Doctors Sarah Davis and Jessica Maguire added: “We want patients to get out of bed, dress themselves, get moving and do the things they love.”

Patients, who were joined by family and friends, were also treated to music, tea and cakes after their exercise session.

Sadie Molloy, 87, originally from Northern Ireland, said: “My favourite part of the class was throwing and catching the ball as I used to play Gaelic football. I was also a mental health nurse and believe it’s important to stay fit for the body and the mind.”

Here are some top-tips to stay fit and well this winter:

Cristina Manalad, physiotherapist and HSEP therapy team lead, and Eduarda Rodrigues, elderly care 10 North ward sister, recommend:

  • Get active and keep moving: Exercise is the best way to keep fit and healthy. Gentle exercises include arm and leg raises, squeezing a ball between your legs and kicking a ball gently if you can.
  • Keep hydrated and eat well: Drink plenty of water or to keep warm, drink tea. A nutritious diet is also extremely important, even if it’s in small portions.
  • Continue doing the things you love: Listen to music, read, paint or dance. It’s very important to continue doing the things you enjoy.
  • Keep an active social life: Keep in contact with family and friends and come together with others who may feel lonely. It’s very important to keep socialising where you can.
  • Have a check-up with your healthcare professional: It’s important to check in with your GP or other healthcare professional to make sure you are well and taking the appropriate medication.

For older people who are in hospital, Sarah Davis, core medical trainee and Jessica Maguire, junior fellow, recommend:

  • While in hospital, try to get out of bed when you’re able to. Go about your normal routine, for example dressing yourself.
  • If you want to get your hair done or put make up on, do it. Do the things that make you feel good, even while in hospital.