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Lauren M. Robins, Ted Brown, Aislinn F. Lalor, Rene Stolwyk, Fiona McDermott and Terry Haines

This paper investigated the potential relationships between physical capacity and physical activity (recreational and household) with social isolation amongst older adults. Data for hospitalized Victorians (n = 311) were analyzed in univariable, multivariable and latent growth curve analyses over six months. Measures included items from the Friendship Scale, Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6), Australian Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers Household (SDAC), and Phone-FITT. Over six months, improvements in physical capacity were related to reduced social isolation (−0.65, CI = −1.21, −0.09). Increased total (0.02, CI = 0.004, 0.04) and household-based physical activity (0.03, CI = 0.001, 0.06) were related to contact with more relatives. Higher baseline household-based physical activity was related to contact with fewer relatives (−0.01, CI = −0.02, −0.001). Along with physical capacity and activity, household-based physical activity appears to be strongly related to social isolation. Further research is required to determine the direction of relationships, to provide evidence for effective interventions.

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Lucy McPhate, Emily M. Simek, Terry P. Haines, Keith D. Hill, Caroline F. Finch and Lesley Day

Background:

Group exercise has been shown to be effective in preventing falls; however, adherence to these interventions is often poor. Older adults’ preferences for how these programs can be delivered are unknown.

Objective:

To identify older people’s preferences for how group exercise programs for falls prevention can be delivered.

Design:

A two-wave, cross-sectional, state-wide telephone survey was undertaken. Respondents were community-dwelling men and women aged 70+ in Victoria, Australia.

Methods:

Open-ended questions were asked to elicit information regarding respondent preferences of the program, which were analyzed using a framework approach.

Results:

Ninetyseven respondents completed the follow-up survey. The results indicate that older adults most frequently report the short-term advantages and disadvantages when describing their preferences for group exercise, such as enjoyment, social interaction, and leader qualities. Longer-term advantages such as falls prevention were described less frequently.

Conclusions:

This study indicates the importance of interpersonal skills, and that the opportunity for social interaction should not be overlooked as a positive feature of a group exercise program.

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Emma Renehan, Claudia Meyer, Rohan A. Elliott, Frances Batchelor, Catherine Said, Terry Haines and Dianne Goeman

Objective: Posthospital discharge shows increased risk for falls in older people. This pilot study was created to determine feasibility and acceptability of a community-delivered posthospital multifactorial program. Method: This mixed-method study used randomized controlled design (quantitative component) and interviews (qualitative component). People aged ≥65 years, hospitalized for a fall, underwent assessment for quality of life and falls-related outcomes, followed by interviews, randomization into intervention (exercise, medication review, and education) or control group, and follow-up at 6 months. Results: Thirteen people commenced, with 10 people assessed at 6 months. Participants were complex with high degrees of frailty, multimorbidity, polypharmacy, and falls risk. Interview data related to intervention, impacts on quality of life, and fall-related outcomes. Conclusion: Preliminary findings suggest suitability of a multifactorial program for older people posthospital discharge following a fall. A social component would be a useful addition to falls prevention strategies, utilizing existing community nursing organizations.

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Lauren M. Robins, K.D. Hill, Lesley Day, Lindy Clemson, Caroline Finch and Terry Haines

This paper describes why older adults begin, continue, and discontinue group- and home-based falls prevention exercise and benefits and barriers to participation. Telephone surveys were used to collect data for 394 respondents. Most respondents reported not participating in group- (66%) or home-based (78%) falls prevention exercise recently. Reasons for starting group-based falls prevention exercise include health benefits (23–39%), health professional recommendation (13–19%), and social interaction (4–16%). They discontinued because the program finished (44%) or due to poor health (20%). Commonly reported benefits were social interaction (41–67%) and health (15–31%). Disliking groups was the main barrier (2–14%). Home-based falls prevention exercise was started for rehabilitation (46–63%) or upon health professional recommendation (22–48%) and stopped due to recovery (30%). Improvement in health (18–46%) was the main benefit. These findings could assist health professionals in prescribing group-based falls prevention exercise by considering characteristics of older adults who perceive social interaction to be beneficial.

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Den-Ching A. Lee, Lesley Day, Caroline F. Finch, Keith Hill, Lindy Clemson, Fiona McDermott and Terry P. Haines

This paper examines whether involvement in an observational study may prompt participants to change their exercise behaviors. Data were collected from 394 older community dwellers in Victoria, Australia using a baseline survey, and 245 of these participated in a follow-up survey one year later. Survey domains were drawn from constructs of relevant health behavior models. Results showed that the proportion of respondents who were currently participating in exercises to prevent falls at follow-up was 12% higher than at baseline (Wilcoxon p value < .001). Twenty-nine percent reported they had changed their perceptions about falls and their risk of falls, with comments focused on threat appraisal. Forty-four percent reported having taken strategies to reduce their risk of falling, with comments based on implementation of different preventive strategies. Respondents who held favorable views toward exercises for the prevention of falls appear to change their behaviors that might address falls when participating in observational studies.