Live Longer Better

Terminology

Key Terms

Ageing

A normal process, starting as the dominant theme from about the age of 30. Ageing results in a decrease in maximal ability (such as the maximum heart rate or muscle strength) and loss of reserve and the ability to adapt to challenges, or resilience. Scientists call this process senescence. 

Loss of fitness

Results from inactivity. Lost of fitness causes a loss of maximal ability and a loss of reserve or resilience. These are very similar to the effects of ageing which is one reason these two processes are often confused. Increasingly the focus is on three types of fitness – physical, cognitive and emotional. 

Disease

An abnormal process, sometimes related to ageing but more often due to lifestyle and environmental factors which become more important the longer a person is exposed to the factors.

Frailty

A distinctive health state related to the ageing process in which multiple body systems gradually lose their inbuilt reserves.  Frailty is the presence of three or more out of five indicators: weakness (reduced grip strength), slowness (gait speed), weight loss, low physical

Growing older

A social process, influenced by personal beliefs and social culture, including the impact of deprivation.  

What to avoid

‘The elderly’ is used very loosely to describe an ageing population as a single entity. It reflects and perpetuates prejudices about all people with a single characteristic. While it might be useful sometimes to generalise about people of a certain age group, problems result from any attempt to describe the ageing population as a single entity because of the huge age range, from 65 (or sometimes 55) to 105.

What do older people want?

Recent research by UKActive (June 2021) explored existing provision to support over 55s to be physically active and asked older adults about the extent to which which these offerings meet their needs and wants. The findings informed a set of specific recommendations, which include:

  • Make it easy and accessible​: different times throughout the day; bookable online and in person.
  • Focus on strength​: offer activities that maintain and build strength as early as possible 
  • Create and build atmosphere​: make it welcoming and inclusive, with a focus on building confidence.
  • Make it social​: maintain and increase socialising opportunities for older adults to support physical, mental and social health, improve experience and drive attendance.
  • Prepare the workforce​: Build people skills as well as skills to support older adult’s specific health and activity needs. 
  • Make it ability specific​: Stop categorisation of offerings by age and focus on categorisation by ability or intensity. 
  • Make communication and promotion clear​: enable people to make informed decisions based on their physical activity needs and desires.
  • Build in post-pandemic support​: consider the changed physical and mental health needs of older adults brought about by Covid-19 and lockdowns.

 

Live Longer Better Terminology

A normal process, with a decrease in maximal ability such as the maximum heart rate and loss of reserve and the ability to adapt to challenges. Scientists call this process senescence.

an abnormal process, sometimes related to ageing but more often due to lifestyle and environmental factors which become more important the longer a person is exposed to the factors, explaining why many diseases become more common as people live longer.  

resulting from inactivity. The effects of loss of fitness are loss of maximal ability e.g., muscle strength and a loss of reserve or resilience, that is the ability to respond to challenges. These are very similar to the effects of ageing which is one reason these two processes are often confused. Increasingly the focus is on three types of fitness – physical, cognitive and emotional. 

a social process, influenced by ageist beliefs and social culture, including the impact of deprivation.  

a distinctive health state related to the ageing process in which multiple body systems gradually lose their inbuilt reserves. Frailty is the presence of three or more out of five indicators: weakness (reduced grip strength), slowness (gait speed), weight loss, low physical activity, and exhaustion.  People with one or two indicators are classified as pre-frail. 

Another term for healthy life expectancy, healthspan refers to the period of life spent in good health. In national statistics, this is measured at birth and then again at 65.

a condition defined by severe impairment of cognitive ability, Alzheimer’s Disease is one of the two most common causes of dementia, the other being disorder of the blood flow to the brain, vascular dementia. 

a term increasingly used rather than healthy to describe the outcome that people aspire to. Although a very broad term, it has meanings and criteria in the literature for example  “being well psychologically, physically, and socioeconomically, and, we should add, culturally: it is all these things working together.”  

 Source: Matthews, G., Izquierdo, C. (2009) Pursuits of Happiness. Well-Being in Anthropological Perspective. Berghahn Books. (p.3). 

This term has been in use for some time, mostly to refer to younger people and sportsmen and women losing fitness if they reduced activity levels. In an important BMJ contribution, geriatrician Dr Arora described how even a week in hospital could have a severe a ‘deconditioning’ effect on older people. Anyone who stops being physically active will decondition to some extent and experience loss of muscle mass, stiffening of joints, loss of bone density (musculoskeletal deconditioning) and decreases in aerobic fitness (cardiovascular deconditioning). Musculoskeletal deconditioning among adults in mid and later life is a particular problem due to its association with risk of falls, frailty and loss of functional ability.  

Source; Arora A. (2019) Prevalence, severity, and nature of preventable patient harm across medical care settings: systematic review and meta-analysis 

https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l4185/rapid-responses 

‘Any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscle that requires energy expenditure’ (WHO 2020)​

A measure of the body’s ability to function efficiently and effectively in work and leisure activities, and includes, for example, physical fitness and cardiorespiratory fitness. (WHO 2020)​

The ability to recover quickly from difficulties (Dictionary def.)​

The assessment of functional capacity reflects the ability to perform activities of daily living that require sustained aerobic metabolism. (AHA 2007)​

ADLs. A term used to collectively describe fundamental skills that are required to independently care for oneself such as eating, bathing, and mobility.  (Katz. 1983)​

Sedentary behaviour refers to any waking behaviour characterised by energy expenditure ≤ 1.5 METs (metabolic equivalent of task: One MET is the energy equivalent expended by an individual while seated at rest), while in a sitting, reclining or lying position. (WHO 2020)

Represents the non-achievement of physical activity guidelines​. Less active = less than an average of 30 minutes a day – Active Lives definition.​

A subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective. (WHO 2020)