One in ten older people in the UK really are 'finding their feet' – and reducing their risk of falls as a result
Published on 10 March 2018 01:03 AM
Age UK urges older people to take up dancing or get active in other ways.
Age UK's Wellbeing in Later Life Index shows that a massive 1 in 10 of the over-65s in the UK are regularly dancing and attending dance classes.
The majority are women, many of them divorcees and widows. Dancing is a highly sociable activity and it may well be that for many of these older dancers, the opportunity to meet new friends is a major attraction of getting involved.
Dancing reduces the chances of falling
By participating in dance classes, these older people are also doing a lot to reduce their risks of falling, since research has found that just an hour of dancing a week lowers the chances of having a fall.
- Falls and fractures among the over-65s account for over 4 million hospital bed days each year in England alone and are a serious threat to older people's self-confidence and independence.
- About 1 in 10 older people who have fallen are afraid to leave their homes in case they fall again.
Age UK is therefore urging older people to take up activities such as dance to improve their health.
Only 10% of the older population do as much physical exercise as is recommended by doctors. Research with older people has found that dance classes are much more popular and engaging than traditional falls prevention programmes, which can seem rather dull.
Dancing and other forms of physical activity also help to keep the brain as well as the body in good working order as we age. In addition to the physical benefits, Age UK's Wellbeing Index found that participating in 'creative activities' of all kinds, including dancing, was the single most effective thing any older person could do to improve their sense of 'wellbeing'.
Finding your feet
These findings come as Age UK has joined forces with entertainment distribution and production company Entertainment One for the making and launch of the film Finding Your Feet.
The charity worked closely with the writers and producers of this feel-good movie, which shows how getting involved with a community dance class can improve older people's health, happiness and outlook on life.
Age UK's Charity Director, Caroline Abrahams, said: 'It's wonderful that as many as one in ten of the older population are regularly dancing. There are so many benefits – social, emotional, physical and mental – and whether they know it or not, these veteran dancers are significantly reducing their risk of a fall as well.
'Falls pose a serious threat to older people and account for many hospital admissions, so if you can have fun, meet new friends and reduce your risks of falling and hurting yourself by dancing in later life, what's not to like?
'It's never too late to start becoming more active and even the most modest amount of physical activity makes a difference. If dance isn't your thing then find something else that is – there are loads of different options. We guarantee you will feel better as a result.
'We have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside the makers of 'Finding your Feet' and it turns out that the film's storyline really is true: dancing can and does make life better for many older people and that's something we should all celebrate and share.'
For further information and support on any of the issues explored in the film, call Age UK's helpline on 0800 055 6112 which is open Mon-Fri from 8am-7pm. To find details of dance classes local to you, visit www.ageuk.org.uk/comedancing