We know that children benefit from play. They learn about the world, engage with each other, as well as getting moving and active in their environments. Play is no different for older people, who also can benefit from social connectedness, exercise, and using their minds in creative ways. Play is also simply a great opportunity to have some fun.
“You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing,” said George Bernard Shaw.
So, how can we encourage older people to engage in play, and to reap the benefits?
Encouraging Older People To Play
Ageless Grace® is a quality-of-life and wellness tool that engages people in playful exercises combined with simple movements. It requires concentration and co-ordination – exercising the brain while it exercises the body.
The most common feedback from those who take part in Ageless Grace classes is that it’s fun – both for the person in the class and for the person leading the group. As Trainers we always get such positive feedback, whether it be (improved) mental health and wellbeing, feeling really happy, being in the community, having a good laugh, or interacting and having togetherness,” she said.
Exercise For The Whole Body
Ageless Grace classes are completely ‘in the moment’. People forget what’s going on elsewhere with their lives.
These exercises work the whole body, but people don’t actually realise they are exercising. Some of the activities, such as ‘Get down, Get up’, can be quite energetic as participants move up, down and around, moving their heart and chest as well as their limbs and their sense of humour!
Ageless Grace allows older people to forget some of the limitations of their ageing bodies. People will often say, ‘I can’t move my shoulder.’ But you can see they’re moving it – within their limitations.
People also say Ageless Grace has improved their physical abilities. Those who once couldn’t touch their toes, gradually find they can.
An Ageless Grace class can include facial exercises, which has the practical benefits of reducing tension in the jaw and can reduce headaches and even eye strain. One benefit for people whose mouths can become dry is that exercising the mouth helps with rehydration, which in turn assists with eating, talking, and dental hygiene.
Another focus in the class can be on the hands, helping people continue doing activities that help preserve their independence, such as doing up buttons and zippers, tying their shoes, and other daily care activities. Often not practised in other forms of exercising, moving the hands can help relieve arthritis and is something they can remember to do regularly, outside of class.
Ageless Grace can help to improve people’s cognitive skills, with some of the exercises designed specifically to stimulate the brain and to encourage neuroplasticity. Doing these exercises on a regular basis (preferably every day for about 10 minutes) helps slow both physical and cognitive decline and helps us feel good about ourselves.
One activity, which requires simple counting with changing patterns, helps participants to stay alert and responsive to changes in their environment.
People love it. They love the security of the beat as we count, the challenge of keeping up with sudden change and the playfulness of seeing others get it wrong, too. There are noticeable improvements in people’s reactions and these exercises are made more difficult to challenge participants and Trainers.
The doctor asked the woman to spell words backwards, which is one is one of the Ageless Grace exercises. The woman achieved her best result ever!
Chairs Give Confidence
The exercises are usually done in chairs, which means the participants can extend their bodies safely. Having to move while seated also means that participants have to think about how to move.
If you were asked to ride a bike, for example, most people would be able to do it quite easily. But when you ask them to do it in a chair, they have to think about how their bodies need to move. What was once a normal response becomes something to think about, just as you did when you started to learn how to ride that bike.
Besides that, the fact that they’re in a chair means people who would not normally exercise are happy to move and have fun. It makes them feel, particularly as they are getting older, more secure. And yet we provide imagination and stimulations that gets them to move their hips, their spine, their joints and many other body parts.
Laughter And Connection
Ageless Grace participants enjoy the laughter in classes.
Ageless Grace helps older people exercise, but it’s also an opportunity to play – to have fun and to make connections. As we get older, we tend to shrink inside ourselves. So, if we can reach out, extend the range we move, it helps us have more space for our organs to do their job.
Reaching out is lovely because it allows us to connect with our neighbours. We sit in a circle, and we can connect and engage with each other.
Learning how to use the Ageless Grace tools is also easy and fun, making it accessible to many people, including in aged care.
Training to become an Ageless Grace Educator can be found on this link
If you would like a class in your community, please call
Deborah Nicholls 604 788 1497
For more information about Ageless Grace please call
Deborah Nicholls, West Vancouver 604 788 1497