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"Don't forget about the elderly people!" Active Aging experts: why it’s so important to keep a growing part of the population active

Eight percent of the world’s population is over 65 years of age – and this figure is expected to rise to 13 percent by 2030. The MOVE Congress 2013 highlighted how important it is for the grassroots sport sector to keep this growing proportion of the population active, healthy and happy in the ‘Active Aging’ session, featuring partners of the Deutscher Turner-Bund’s (DTB) Active Age project.


Walter Brehm and Pia Pauly from DTB, Anna Elisabeth Kooreman from UISP in Italy, Leeni Asola Myllynen from Svoli in Finland and Ingrid Peeters from OKRA-SPORT in Belgium introduced the strategies and initiatives they have used to enable elderly people to be active on a regular basis.


Sometimes it takes a visit to their homes for a chat, light exercise and a walk to the market; other times a little motivational push can come from inviting seniors to organise their own activities. But what is most important is to cater for elderly people’s different needs, physical capabilities, medical conditions and their existing involvement in physical activity to find out how to keep them engaged.


UISP’s Anna Elisabeth Kooreman said she found it rewarding to deliver programmes especially for elderly people and free them from their often isolated and sedentary everyday environments.


“When you are working with these people it is very pleasant because they are really grateful. They are waiting for you to do something, to do activities, to be with them and to be with the others because in their communities and elderly homes everyone is sitting and there is no social aspect.”


Ingrid Peeters said the high level of interest and engagement in the workshop reinforced how vital it is to focus on keeping citizens both young and old motivated and aware of how they can stay physically active.


“When you are talking about sport and movement it should not only be about initiatives for the youth. It is good that they start when they are young, but now with the elderly population growing it is really important for them to know that there is also something for them to do. I am here because I want to find out more about what’s going on in this field and to give the message: Don’t forget about the old people!”


By Rachel Payne, ISCA