Focusing on Physical Activity Can Help Avoid Unnecessary Later Life Social Care Expenses

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Scarlett McNally

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeo
Eastbourne D.G.H.

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: There are vast differences between older people in their abilities and their number of medical conditions. Many people confuse ageing with loss of fitness. Ageing has specific effects (reduction in hearing and skin elasticity for example) but the loss of fitness is not inevitable. Genetics contributes only 20% to diseases. There is abundant evidence that adults who take up physical activity improve their fitness up to the level of someone a decade younger, with improvements in ‘up and go’ times. Physical activity can reduce the severity of most conditions, such as heart disease or the risk of onset or recurrence of many cancers. Inactivity is one of the top four risk factors for most long-term conditions. There is a dose-effect curve. Dementia, disability and frailty can be prevented, reduced or delayed.

The need for social care is based on an individual’s abilities; for example, being unable to get to the toilet in time may increase the need for care from twice daily care givers to needing residential care or live-in care, which increases costs five-fold.

Hospitals contribute to people reducing their mobility, with the ‘deconditioning syndrome’ of bed rest, with 60% of in-patients reducing their mobility.

The total cost of social care in the UK is up to £100 billion, so even modest changes would reduce the cost of social care by several billion pounds a year.

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