New research at Flinders is encouraging older adults to be more active in hospital and when they return home.
The number of older Australians being hospitalised is increasing, and once older adults are admitted to hospital, their time spent moving, sitting and sleeping changes dramatically.
While many older adults are active in their community before hospitalisation, in hospital they can spend up to 100 per cent of their day sitting or lying down. Even two or three days of near-complete inactivity increases the risk of functional decline and a range of complications.
Sleep is also affected commonly during hospital stays. Sleep disturbance has been linked to difficulties in participating in daytime activities and rehabilitation, leading to sedentary behaviour.
Although the negative consequences of inactivity are clear, strategies to increase physical activity or reduce sitting time in hospital settings are scarce.
Dr Claire Baldwin has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to help adults move more, sit less and sleep well, from hospital to home, through a holistic program called ‘ACTIVE-DAY’.
As part of ACTIVE-DAY, hospital patients will consult with a physiotherapist to find ways to safely move more and sit less. The physiotherapist will also design a personalised daily exercise program. Patients will continue to receive support when they return home, with the aid of an activity tracker.
“By using simple monitoring technology, we aim to collect data on how much time older adults spend moving, sitting and sleeping in hospital, and how that changes over the first three months after discharge home,” Dr Baldwin said.
“Our hope is that ACTIVE-DAY will prove to be an easy-to use and helpful intervention, because it uses everyday activity trackers, and is combined with individualised support to help older adults restore healthy movement and sleep habits, from hospital to home.
“Our research stands to benefit people who are at risk of a decline in their physical function or independence, as a result of illness and inactivity while in hospital. By being more active during hospitalisation, the risk of falls and other costly complications that prolong length of stay are decreased, while the likelihood of a safe and confident discharge home is increased.”
Research category: Clinical
Project title: “ACTIVE-DAY”: helping older adults to move more, sit less and sleep well, from hospital to home
Lead researcher: Dr Claire Baldwin