Seniors use gymnastics equipment for routines to improve their balance and flexibility. (Delta Gymnastics Society)

B.C. funds pilot program to get more seniors doing gymnastics

The $150,000 province-wide program aims to build fitness and balance

The B.C. government is establishing pilot projects for seniors at up to 16 gymnastics facilities around the province, based on a successful program in Delta.

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced Tuesday that the Delta Gymnastics Society’s Seniors Can Move program is getting $150,000 to keep its new program going and develop a 10-week model to pilot in other communities. The program was established in 2018 with one-time federal funds.

“It’s the first of its kind in B.C. to get seniors on the gymnastics floor to improve their strength and agility,” Dix said. “This creative program is already making a big difference to the health of seniors here in Delta, through improving balance, building confidence in movement and helping with fall prevention.”

The growing senior population and increasing lifespan have become the biggest challenge for health care systems across the country, putting pressure on senior care services even as their workforce sees a rising number of retirements.

The 2016 Canadian census showed for the first time that seniors outnumbered young people, as birth rates have declined and the postwar baby boomers enter their retirement years.

RELATED: Home care declines as B.C. senior population grows

RELATED: Community program reaches out to isolated seniors

The province has struggled with a range of pressures, including staff levels in long-term care facilities and increasing demand for home-based care. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie reported in January that the number of seniors receiving home support services decreased by 1.4 per cent in 2018, as B.C.’s senior population grew by four per cent. The population of seniors older than 85 grew by five per cent, according to the latest B.C. seniors monitoring report.

Dix and Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon said the gymnastics program is also a way for seniors to prevent isolation as their physical abilities decline.

“Social connectivity can help them stay at home and in their communities longer, and we know how important that is for seniors,” Kahlon said.


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tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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