– I am interested in how the series of activities can help to promote health for older people. I believe that the elderly care can benefit from the results of my research.
Cecilia Björklund has recently defended her thesis in the subject occupational therapy at Luleå University of Technology. She has studied how series of activities can promote health and wellbeing of older people, over a day and over a year.
Personal time rhythm
One of the studies included 151 elderly people, who kept a diary of their activities. A pattern of six intervals became clear during the day. Morning range ran from 8-12.00 o´clock, then lunch, afternoon, midday, evening and night intervals took over. According to the study, this activity pattern over one day does not differ so much from the pattern that gainfully employed people have. It was only the transitions to and from the night interval that had a gradual shift of about three hours. The night interval is probably controlled by the personal time rhythm, while other intervals may be more influenced by time influences from the environment.
– For example, it can negatively affect the healthif you have to go to bed early if you are a night person. If there is disease invovlved, there are of course different premises applied, says Cecilia Björklund.
Activities for good health
She also viewed the duration of the different activities and saw that the longest time during the day was spend on personal care, followed by reflection and recreation, to manage the home, purchasing and cooking, and move in the community. The aim was to identify the characteristics that may be related to high and low health.
– I saw a tendency that those who were physically active spend more time at home, cooking and moving in the community and less on personal care, reflection and recreation activities, than the group who had low health.
Important core projects
Cecilia Björklund also studied the activities that elderly people considered important to promote health during a whole year. Eleven elderly in good health said that five core projects were of great importance, which is to keep the family together, to enjoy life in the home, being close to nature, to develop themselves and to promote healthy aging.
– It is important to have something to look forward to throughout the year. It may be activities, like going to the summer house in the spring or picking mushrooms in autumn.
Some tips are to make a daily routine that suits a morning or evening person, which makes it possible to participate in fellow men and society activities.
Make a long-term planning for activities that promote good contact with relatives, being outdoors and engage in leisure activities, but also participate in activities that will help other people who have impaired health. The proceeds of being of use to others also promote their own health, says Cecilia Björklund.
– I hope that activity planners in the elderly care take into account the core projects in my research and that older people may continue with them to promote their health.