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Elderly Fun Days! Senior Circle

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With a mission to build a harmonious community based on mutual respect, DB management makes the wellbeing of elderly residents a priority.

Ray Au reports. PHOTOS BY Richard Gordon – www.richardgordonphotography.com

One of the common grumbles one hears from elderly people is that they become invisible as they grow older; unseen and unheard by all but their immediate family. This may be true in many communities across the world but it’s definitely not the case in DB, where management works hard to help them stay socially connected and physically active.

The Elderly Fun Days – two half-day gatherings per week, co-organised by City Management and Love.Together@DB – are a case in point. Held every Tuesday and Thursday morning at DB Multi-Purpose Hall, the fun days are designed to encourage aged members of the community to get together and enjoy a range of activities, such as early morning exercise, table tennis, tea-sharing, tai chi and mahjong (gambling is prohibited!).

“Our aim with the Elderly Fun Days is multi-faceted: to foster a sense of belonging within the DB community, to help residents build relationships through shared activities, to promote senior citizens’ wellbeing and to celebrate DB’s multicultural demographic,” says Ernest Lee, Assistant Director of Discovery Bay Services Management Ltd.

City Management is well aware how social isolation, lack of physical activity and poor diet can negatively impact the elderly. For this reason, the Elderly Fun Days prioritise par ticipants’ physical (and mental) health through the activities on offer. Regular talks on useful topics like health, home safety and crime prevention are provided to keep par ticipants’ minds active. The City Management team shares fresh vegetables from its farmland with the retirees to encourage healthy eating. And, in addition to the twice weekly gatherings, City Management organises large-scale parties for participants, giving them the opportunity to meet up and socialise on special occasions like Christmas and Chinese New Year.

“Since 2014, the City Owners Committee has paid particular attention to elderly residents within the community, setting up occasional gatherings for them with games and health talks,” Ernest explains. “The variety of activities was increased gradually, and in 2016, we began holding weekly gatherings. Under the City Owners Committee, a DB Senior Citizens Group was also formed for long-term planning; our motto is to build a harmonious community based on mutual respect.”

The Elderly Fun Days are now held twice weekly and regularly attended by some 280 members, most of whom are retired residents. “In 2018, due to its increasing popularity, the group was named 長樂會 (direct translation: long-lasting, happy group) with a mission to promote harmony and mutual respect amongst members,” Ernest says. “We are delighted to help elderly residents enjoy their lives through different kinds of activities specifically tailored for them.”

Supported by Love.Together@DB, the Elderly Fun Days are managed by City Management staff alongside a group of local volunteers. Living in a well-connected community is important for people’s happiness, and the idea is to promote the wellbeing of all those involved – both the carers and those being cared for. The people who volunteer have the opportunity to give of themselves, connect with other residents and have fun; the elderly participants reap the benefits, socialising not only with their peers but also with the carers and organisers. It’s a win-win.

The efforts of all those involved have been applauded by relevant local bodies. In 2021, DB was recognised as an Age-Friendly Housing Estate by Hong Kong Jockey Club and Hong Kong Association of Gerontology. And we can be sure that the support provided is ongoing. “The City Management and Love.Together@DB teams, who take care of the senior citizens and organise the various activities, will continue to strive for the betterment of all those in the group,” Ernest concludes.

Healthy Ageing Tips!

We want our minds and bodies to remain healthy and active well into old age. Here’s what the National Institute on Ageing recommends:

Changes to the body and brain are normal as we age, and it’s natural for us to start prioritising our health. The good news is that adopting and maintaining a few key behaviours can help older adults live longer, healthier lives.

EXERCISE REGULARLY

There are lots of reasons to make physical activity a part of daily life. Exercise can help reduce levels of stress and anxiety, improve balance and lower risk of falls, enhance sleep and decrease feelings of depression. Most importantly, people who exercise regularly not only live longer, but may also live better — meaning they enjoy more years of life with less pain or disability.

Consult your doctor or a personal trainer about how much activity you can and should be doing and brainstorm ways to work it into your daily life. Where possible, aim for a mix of activities, including aerobics, strength training, balance and flexibility. This could include walking around the neighbourhood, lifting weights, or stretching. Consider sharing your favourite activities with a friend so that you have an “exercise buddy” … or join an age-appropriate fitness class.

REMAIN SOCIALLY INVOLVED

As people age, they often find themselves spending more time alone. Factors like poor health, the death of a par tner and caring for a loved one can all lead to feelings of social disconnect. Increased isolation and loneliness are associated with higher risks for health problems, such as depression, heart disease and cognitive decline. The solution? Find ways to stay socially connected.

Look for oppor tunities to connect with friends and loved ones on a daily basis, especially if you live alone. If those closest to you live overseas, schedule biweekly phone calls or video chats. Consider widening your social circle by seeking out others with shared interests, such as through a volunteer organisation, book club or walking group.

KEEP YOUR MIND ACTIVE

Your brain is similar to a muscle — you need to use it or lose it. There are many things that you can do to keep your brain in shape, such as doing crossword puzzles or Sudoku, reading, playing cards or putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Consider it cross-training your brain. Incorporate different types of activities to increase the effectiveness.

Most healthcare teams don’t recommend the paid brain-training programmes available. These programmes often overpromise results or focus on memorisation skills that aren’t useful in everyday life. Your brain can get just as good of a workout through reading or challenging yourself with puzzles. And, don’t watch too much TV – it’s a passive activity that does little to stimulate your brain.

EAT HEALTHILY

Healthy eating is an important part of healthy ageing. Having a healthy diet can help support muscles and strengthen bones, which can help with balance and independence. A nutritious diet, involving a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins, can also help boost immunity and lower the risk of certain health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, stroke and some cancers.

If you feel your eating habits fall short, talk with a doctor or dietician about your diet and any vitamin and mineral supplements you may need. Gen up on healthy eating options like the Mediterranean diet, and pick out some new health-orientated cookbooks. Take a fresh look at some of your favourite, go-to recipes – the ones loaded with unhealthy fats and sugars – and find ways to make them healthier, for example by substituting olive oil for butter.

SCHEDULE REGULAR CHECK-UPS

It’s impor tant for older people in particular to have regular health exams and medical screenings. Checking in with doctors annually, and possibly more often, depending on overall health, may help reduce risk factors for disease such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Regular check-ups can also help catch concerns early and improve the chances for effective treatment.

It can be challenging to stay on top of appointments and medications, so here are some easy hacks. Schedule upcoming appointments on a calendar, so you can keep track. Ask a friend or family member to go with you on an impor tant hospital visit to make notes. Maintain a current list of your medications, including both prescription and over-the-counter medications and any supplements, and share this list with your healthcare providers.

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