Want to stay out of care? The study says: Quit smoking and exercise


Want to stay out of care? Quit smoking and exercise: A study found that people over 60 who lead unhealthy lifestyles are twice as likely to end up at home.

  • Smoking, physical activity, sitting and sleep quality have all been linked to higher risks
  • However, the quality of the diet was not, according to the Australian team of researchers
  • The experts behind the latest study looked at data from more than 127,000 people

If you want to stay out of the nursing home, it’s time to quit smoking and start exercising.

A new study shows that older people who lead an unhealthy lifestyle are twice as likely to end up in nursing homes than their active peers.

Smoking, physical activity, sitting and sleep quality were found to be associated with an increased risk of admission to a nursing home.

Although the quality of the diet, perhaps surprisingly, was not.

Researchers studied data on more than 127,000 Australians who took part in a large study on healthy aging between 2006 and 2009.

Smoking, physical activity, sitting and sleep quality were found to be associated with an increased risk of admission to a nursing home

Smoking, physical activity, sitting and sleep quality were found to be associated with an increased risk of admission to a nursing home

Participants were divided into three risk groups based on five lifestyle factors – smoking, physical activity, sitting, sleep quality and diet quality and were followed for an average of 11 years.

A quarter of participants (24 percent) were placed in the least-risk group with a score of nine or 10 points, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) were in the medium-risk group with a score of six to eight points and 14 percent were in the unhealthy group with a score of less than Five points.

The Australian research team found that people over 60 who eat poorly and spend a lot of time on the couch were 43 percent more likely to end up in a nursing home than fitter retirees.

Those with a healthy, moderate lifestyle were 12 percent more likely to have home care for the elderly than healthy older adults.

Participants’ lifestyles were then rated from 1 to 10, with participants’ lifestyle representing the most unhealthy and 10 being the healthiest.

The risk of entering a nursing home increased by 19 percent with each unit decreasing in the healthy lifestyle score.

People with the lowest score experienced a double risk compared to the people with the highest score.

This risk was higher for those aged 60-64 (2.15 times) who were less healthy than those aged 65-74 (61 percent) and those aged 75 to 84 (36 percent increased risk) .

Smokers were found to be 55 percent more likely than non-smokers to end up needing nursing care, according to findings presented at the International Conference on Obesity in Melbourne, Australia.

The study’s lead author, Dr Alice Gibson from the University of Sydney, said: ‘Effective strategies to prevent or delay the entry of older people into home care for the elderly will help ensure that society can adequately care for the growing number of older people.

Our study highlights the potential to prevent or delay nursing home admissions among at-risk individuals during old age through interventions that promote a healthy lifestyle.

This can be a powerful incentive for many individuals to adopt or maintain a healthier lifestyle.

What should a balanced diet look like?

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS.

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS.

• Eat at least 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count

• Layer meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains

• 30 grams of fiber per day: Like eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat crackers, 2 thick slices of whole-wheat bread, 1 large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) choose options that are lower in fat and lower in sugar

• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including two servings of fish each week, one of which should be fatty)

• Choose unsaturated oils and fats and consume in small quantities

• Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily

• Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men per day

source: NHS Eatwell Guide


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