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

Want to stay out of care? Quit smoking and exercise: Over-60s with unhealthiest lifestyles are TWICE as likely to end up in a home, study finds

  • Smoking, physical activity, sitting and sleep quality were all linked to higher risk
  • However, diet quality wasn’t, according to the team of Australian researchers
  • Experts behind the latest study looked at data on more than 127,000 people

If you want to stay out of a care home, it might be time to stop smoking and start exercising.

Older people with an unhealthy lifestyle are twice as likely to end up in a care home than their active peers, according to a new study.

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

Though, perhaps surprisingly, diet quality was not.

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

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

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

A quarter of participants (24 per cent) were placed in the lowest risk group with a score of nine or 10 points, almost two thirds (62 per cent) were in the medium risk group with a score of six to eight points and 14 per cent were in the unhealthiest group with a score below five points.

The Australian research team found over-60s who eat badly and spend too much time on the sofa were 43 per cent more likely to end up in a nursing home compared with the fittest retirees.

Those with a moderately healthy lifestyle were 12 per cent more likely to need nursing home care than the healthiest old people.

Participants’ lifestyles were then ranked from one to 10, with one representing the unhealthiest lifestyles and 10 the healthiest.

The risk of being admitted to a nursing home increased by 19 per cent with every unit decrease in healthy lifestyle score.

People with the lowest scores saw their risk double compared with people with the highest scores.

This risk was higher for the least healthy 60 to 64-year-olds (2.15 times) compared with the unhealthiest 65 to 74-year-olds (61 per cent) and 75 to 84-year-olds (36 per cent increased risk).

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

Lead study author Dr Alice Gibson from the University of Sydney said: ‘Effective strategies to prevent or delay older adults entering nursing home care will help ensure society can adequately care for its increasing number of older people.

‘Our study highlights the potential of preventing or delaying nursing home admission among at-risk individuals during ageing with interventions that promote a healthy lifestyle.

‘This could be a powerful motivator 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 wholegrain, according to the NHS

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

• Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain

• 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on

• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options

• Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day

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

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide 

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