Auckland Retirees Try Ground-Breaking Wellness Programme

AUT News

Legendary All Black Buck Shelford has joined residents at Metlifecare’s Greenwich Gardens retirement village to experience a brand-new approach to wellness for older people.

A joint initiative between Metlifecare and AUT, the ‘Your Best You’ programme integrates six dimensions of wellness - physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and vocational.
Metlifecare CEO, Glen Sowry, says partnering with AUT allows the company to enhance its own extensive wellness offering and go beyond the typical focus on physical and cognitive wellness.
“Talking with our residents, we saw an opportunity to create a programme which adds the all-important dimensions of social, spiritual, emotional and vocational wellness. The resulting programme is exciting, innovative and, most importantly, it is owned and run by the residents themselves.”
Phase one began in early September with 15 residents completing a pre-testing session and survey covering quality of life, wellness and cognition.
AUT School of Sport and Recreation ‘never2old’ Programme Coordinator, Dave Hoskins, praises Metlifecare’s commitment to the initiative and its recognition that wellness is neither onedimensional nor formulaic.
“The best outcomes will be achieved by the multi-dimensional approach and we’ve worked closely with Metlifecare and the village residents to develop the holistic programme. As a result, we’ve added activities such as ‘Brain Games’ and ‘Brain Yoga’ to support not only cognitive but also emotional and spiritual wellness.”
Vocational activities include bush walks and tree planting, as well as informative weekly talks by experts including Shelford, a newly appointed Wellness Ambassador.
“Health and wellbeing is something I’ve been involved with throughout my adult life and it has been especially important during my recent battles with cancer. I’m now into my 60s so recognise the need to stay on top of all round wellness,” says Shelford.
After the first four weeks, participants will be invited to undergo retesting and share their experiences. AUT hopes these insights will help further refine the programme for a potential rollout to Metlifecare’s other 23 villages in 2019.
“Our expectation is that residents will feel demonstrably better and that the increased range of activities will become a regular part of their daily routine,” says Hoskins.
Metlifecare is a leading New Zealand owner and operator of retirement villages, providing rewarding lifestyles and care to more than 5,000 New Zealanders.

Pro Vice-Chancellor’s Perspective

Prof. Max Abbott, CNZM, Pro Vice-Chancellor, AUT North Campus

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70 this year. The United Nations International Day for Older Persons honoured the importance of this Declaration with the theme ‘Celebrating Older Human Right Champions’ – many of whom were born around the time it was signed in 1948.

The AUT Centre for Active Ageing, in conjunction with the Silver Line Charitable Trust, celebrated the International Day for Older Persons with a free public event at the AUT North Campus.
Chaired by Silver Line co-patron Sir Bob Harvey, the event showcased inspirational advances being made by and for older people. This included research from the AUT Centre for Active Ageing and Silver Line’s plans to provide a national contact and befriending service for lonely older people.
This is the first time in history that people aged 65 years-and-older will outnumber those 14 years-and-under. Some countries have already passed this threshold and their number will grow rapidly as the population of older people more than doubles in the next 25 years. What does this mean? We are entering unchartered territory. The challenges and opportunities are multiple and complex.
The focus is often on the negative. However, there are many positive things about population ageing. For a start, crime rates will fall. In New Zealand, the rate of mental disorders among people aged 65 years and older is a quarter that of 16-44-year olds. This is good news for older people – more so if it also applies to future generations.
There are also significant challenges. As we get older, we are more likely to have health problems and impairments. Without timely treatment and support, impairments can become disabilities. Loss of partners, relatives and friends, among other things, can lead to isolation and loneliness. Loneliness literally kills, through suicide and contributing to ill health. Discrimination and ageism persist.
And, older human rights activists are well placed to focus their activism on barriers to social integration, the dignity and quality of
life of their peers.
The accompanying article describes a collaboration between older people, AUT and Metlifecare that has the potential to advance health and wellbeing nationwide. Amplifying initiatives of this type will help ensure that more of us age well and have positive lives.