A small piece of research by cardiologists at the University of Texas has profound implications for the care of the elderly, although probably no-one, including older people themselves, will jump up and take notice.
The research found that getting up and moving around can stop your fitness from dropping and keep your heart healthy. The study concluded that sitting down for two hours can be just as harmful as 20 minutes of exercise is beneficial.
The reality for many elderly people, especially those in residential care homes, is that there is nothing to do but sit around all day. So while we are supposedly caring for people, we are actually doing them more harm.
Care needs to be focussed on maintaining an active life. The good news is that it does not have to mean joining the gym or walking 5 miles a day. Great if you can do that but just taking a few small steps frequently can at least maintain your current level of fitness and keep the grim reaper away for a little longer.
This implies a radically different approach to residential care, where currently the focus has become safety first. Where care plans concentrate on ensuring you take your pills and where bowel movements have become more important than getting out and about.
Active care plans challenge residents and also staff. Residents deserve more out of life than a rocking chair that no longer rocks.