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T

here is extensive knowledge on the role of nutrition,

different activities and social and healthcare services in

the promotion of healthy ageing and independent living.

Several studies have shown that promotion of physical activities is

one of the main methods of promoting physical, mental, social

and cognitive functioning in old age. However, the evidence is not

adequately utilised.

The aim of the Age Institute is to promote good ageing by

implementing evidence-based health promotion methods in

Finland. Implementation is demanding and it requires long term

co-operation and a systematic approach. In the following we

describe experiences gathered during the ten years of the ‘Strength

in Old Age’ programme (2005-2015) focusing on the promotion of

evidence-based health exercise among home-dwelling people

older than 75 years with mobility limitations. The goal was to

promote their autonomy and quality of life. Finland’s Slot Machine

Association, Ministry of Education and Culture, and Ministry of

Social Affairs and Health financed the programme.

In the first stage of the programme (2005-2010) 35 non-

governmental organisations (NGO) developed good practices to

implement health exercises. In the second stage (2010-2015)

38 municipalities implemented these practices with the

mentoring support provided by the Age Institute, which

co-ordinated the programme. During the second stage about

70% of the target population living in the 38 municipalities

participated in the activities of the programme. Based on the

assessment of 2,000 participants, strength and balance were

improved in 53% and maintained in 38% of them during the

3-12 month period (Table 1).

Co-operation

The programme has required several steps and multiple ways of

co-operation. Box 1 summarises the good practices developed and

implementation methods used in each municipality. The follow-up

data has demonstrated the success of the programme and

showed that research evidence on health promotion in old age can

be implemented successfully, but it needs to be locally adapted

and supported by training, mentoring, cross-sectoral collaboration

and sharing of knowledge. In the programme, the role of NGOs was

central in finding the target groups of old people.

Because of the complexity and importance of implementation we

hope to see more studies focusing on the implementation of

research findings on promotion of health and wellbeing in old

age. The lessons we have learnt are that such activities should

focus on the needs and motivations of older people, be based

on local resources, involve decision makers and promote cross-

sectoral co-operation.

The Age Institute promotes functioning, mental wellbeing, social

inclusion and an age-friendly living environment. In all these fields

we need the involvement of old people from the very beginning of

the study because they can provide innovative research questions

and approaches and improve the quality of research.

PäiviTopo, Director

Elina Karvinen, Programme Manager

TheAge Institute

te l :

+358 40 1994770

paivi.topo@ikainstituutti.fi http//:www.ikainstituutti.fi

In ageing societies we need to find ways of promoting the wellbeing of elderly

people.The Age Institute promotes good ageing by implementing evidence-based

health promotion

Implementing evidence-

based practices

www.horizon2020projects.com

H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA L

I S S U E S E V E N

127

P R O F I L E

S O C I E TA L C H A L L E N G E S : H E A L T H & W E L L B E I N G

2010-2011

2014

Number of exercise

groups

786

1,500

Participants in

exercise groups

10,883

22,044

Volunteer assistants

in outdoor activities

592

1,150

Peer instructors in

exercise groups

210

732

Persons received

counselling

5,484

14,374

Table 1: Key results of the Strength in Old Age programme

Key elements of the Strength in Old Age programme

Local cross-sectoral collaboration:

n

Local development was done in co-operation groups which

were established at the beginning of the work; and

n

Practical co-operation was guided by co-ordinators for health

and social care, sports, and local NGOs.

A mentor pair from the Age Institute for the local projects supported:

n

A survey and development and implementation plan;

n

Building a network of actors;

n

Training of local trainer and instructor network;

n

Support for organising exercise and counselling; and

n

Support for communication and evaluation.