GYMSEN: Sensory Gymnastics for the Elderly
Sensory Gymnastics for the Elderly, GYMSEN, is a training project aimed to maintain the sensory capabilities of the elderly in order to improve their wellness and quality of life. During our lifetime, the body suffers changes both at the physiological and psychological level, which include a gradual loss of sensory abilities. The most common forms are hearing and vision impairment, although olfactory (smell), taste and touch are also affected. This consequently causes changes in the diet, nutrient management and lifestyle, as food perception and preferences are altered, affecting the sense of satisfaction that food consumption provides. Ultimately, the aging population, suffering from inappropriate nutrition due to sensory loss, can increase their risk of many age-related disorders, including falls, dementia, functional decline and diminished immune system, among others.
Therefore, maintaining an adequate sensory perception using sensory gymnastics may prevent, improve, and/or delay functional and cognitive decline. Numerous studies have shown that sensory training in the elderly population has many benefits, including:
– Prevention of falls, being the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and the second largest reason of unintentional fatal injuries.
– Promoting a healthy lifestyle in the elderly: these result in the delay of dependence.
– Adherence and motivation in the elderly, which includes increased quality of life and adopting a positive attitude with food.
The main objective of this project is to maintain the sensory capabilities of the elderly in order to improve their wellness and quality of life.
The program will be performed with four elderly profiles, each group with different states of health, dependence and physical activity: a) intellectually active elders, b) intellectually inactive elders, c) institutionalized elders and d) elders with Alzheimer’s disease. Professors, relatives, therapists and caretakers will participate in this program as well. The courses will have common modules among them, with certain parts adapted to the specific needs of each specific profile.
The most important innovation of this program with respect to others is the inclusion of “sensory gymnastics” as a new part of the training program for the elderly. The elderly should perform this activity with trained caretakers in order to assure proper training.
Besides these training courses, the program will be added as a complement formation within pre-existing programs that are already held in the various institutions that participate in the project. The formation period will be complemented with Nutrition and Physical Activity information. For specific details on this subject, see the corresponding Partners webpages.
The major result of this project is to promote sensory wellbeing of the elderly, by preventing, delaying or improving its deterioration while at the same time maintaining cognitive capabilities. This program is especially useful for health professionals, caretakers and relatives. Also, the success of Sensory Gymnastics can make it become part of the general activities provided by Universities, Associations, Day Care Centers, etc.
Other aspects include the promotion of a closer cooperation between the elderly and caretakers, increasing elderly wellbeing, and adherence to a healthy lifestyle, as well as increased interest in food and nutrition.