Helping seniors stay healthy

25 August 2017 | General News
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The HAPPY programme aims to help seniors live out their golden years in good health

NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) has introduced a new programme in senior activity centres in western Singapore this August to help the elderly maintain good physical and mental health. Known as the Healthy Ageing Promotion Programme for You (HAPPY), the comprehensive intervention measure is expected to benefit more than 1,000 seniors aged 60 and above over the next two years and play an important role in a rapidly ageing Singapore.

Adapted from Cognicise, a multicomponent exercise programme designed by the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology in Japan, HAPPY is tailored for the local population and includes group exercises and advice on healthy ageing.

“Almost half of our older population is either frail or pre-frail and many of them are still independent in activities of daily living. We want them to maintain their functional ability and lead a good quality of life and hence the HAPPY programme,” said Associate Professor Reshma Merchant, Division Head of Geriatric Medicine at NUS Medicine.

A recent study by Assoc Prof Merchant found that more than a third of 1,051 older residents in Bukit Panjang were on the verge of becoming frail. Another six per cent were frail and eight per cent suffered from cognitive impairment.  

Frailty is characterised by diminished strength, endurance and physiological function; memory problems; and an increasing vulnerability to internal and external stressors and negative health-related outcomes including falls, hospitalisation, disability, institutionalisation and mortality.

The study also found that while 91 per cent of robust older adults were independent in their daily living, only 72 per cent of pre-frail and half of frail participants were still independent in tasks like bathing, eating and walking.

Almost half of our older population is either frail or pre-frail and many of them are still independent in activities of daily living. We want them to maintain their functional ability and lead a good quality of life and hence the HAPPY programme.

To evaluate the success of the HAPPY programme, participants will have their memory, mobility, strength and functional ability measured before and after the exercises. 

The programme’s team members hope to work closely with community partners by building their capabilities to screen the elderly for frailty, recommend interventions and manage these conditions in the long term.\

See media coverage.

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HAPPY participants engaging in a group exercise at Fei Yue Retirees Centre