Older Adult Training - OAATS

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Older Adult Training - OAATS


The video below provides an overview of the OAATS program. It demonstrates how all the risk factors are interconnected and provides examples of OAATS key messages.

Why is this information important?

Information gathered by the City of Mississauga during the development of the Older Adult Plan clearly indicates that over the next 20 years our city will be experiencing a demographic shift.
  • Currently 20% of the City is 55 years and older. Within 20 years this will increase to 38%. This equates to 7,000 additional older adults each year.
  • By 2031 over 300,000 residents will be 55 years or older.
  • Mississauga continues to remain ethnically diverse, with 41.8% of residents first language being neither French nor English
  • Currently 19% of older adults over 75 yrs of age are considered low income and 85% of those 85 years or older live alone
  • The population of seniors is expected to comprise a larger share of the Canadian population, growing from 3.5 million people in 1996 to an estimated 6.9 million by 2021.

It is important that we plan now for improving the overall health of our aging population. The OAATS project provides health promotion training, resources, and connections to community groups/associations for anyone who works with older adults and would like to promote healthy options and information.

By encouraging health promotion key messages we can assist our current older adults and future generations be more aware of how to improve and maintain their overall health. The City of Mississauga Older Adult Plan identifies the importance of healthy independent residents and has committed to sustaining the OAATS project through the position of the Older Adult Coordinator.

Learn more about the City of Mississauga Older Adult Plan.

What is the Older Adult Awareness Training
Support Project?

The goal of the Older Adults Awareness Training Support project is to improve the overall health information provided to Older Adults who participate in recreation programs. A comprehensive training program has been developed for organizations to educate Older Adult activity leaders and volunteers in the importance of an integrated approach to improving health and wellness. In effect the project will encourage health literacy, which is the ability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course.

The project addresses multiple risk priorities including physical activity, healthy eating, mental health, and injury prevention. Six to eight key messages in each of the identified risk priorities will provide simple key messages that can be delivered to Older Adults through recreation activity leaders.

The online toolkit is available for staff, volunteers, recreation workers, and anyone who works with Older Adults to easily access supporting documents to the key messages. There are suggestions for referrals, resources, such as web links, DVD's and handouts that can be given to Older adults who may benefit from having further information.


Thank you to the many people and organizations who contributed to the compilation of this tool kit for the Older Adult Awareness Training Support. Experts in Mississauga, Ontario and Canada were generous in providing their own materials and in making suggestions for additional resources.

The toolkit was created as a way to access educational resources for recreation workers, volunteers and other health promotion champions to provide health promotion information, tips and resources to Older Adults in recreation settings. We are grateful for the funding support from the Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport through the Healthy Communities fund.

The project's success is due to the dedication of the Steering Committee Members and the Advisory Teams in the development of the OAATS Program. The following organizations supported the project by dedicating staff time, expertise and resources.

Acknoledgements Square One Older Adult Centre Alzheimer Society Peel Get Active Mississauga City of Mississagua Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care Home Instead Senior Care Mississauga Halton Falls Prevention Initiative West G.T.A. Stroke Network

Healthy Eating

Research studies into the importance of food and its relationship to health or illness have been on going for the past several years. Many studies indicate that the food we eat does have a direct impact on a number of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even mental health.

Knowing the importance of healthy eating to our overall health is vital for people to become educated about the food that they purchase, prepare, store and eat. Even the atmosphere and social interactions that take place around food affect our overall health.

The OAATS healthy eating committee has identified a few simple key messages that relate to various aspects of overall healthy eating. Each key message has resources that provide more information or support the importance of the key message.

Eat Regular Healthy Meals
Why is the message important?
Many older adults find eating healthy regular meals a difficult task. The reasons for poor eating are varied and extensive. Some people don't have funds for proper meals, some don't know how to cook for one person, and some are not sure what they should or should not be eating. Proper nutrition is vital for good health and we must remind people to consistently eat well.

Details of the message:
  • Eat a minimum of 3 balanced meals per day.
  • Eat 7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Eat your fruit don't drink it.
  • Follow Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Change the type of snacks that are offered at activities and at your own workplace to create a culture of healthy eating.
  • Provide fruits and vegetables at activities in place of cookies or donuts.
  • Hand out/distribute/display the Canada's food guide.
  • Put up a display or poster than indicate what healthy serving sizes are.
  • Host a meal planning and shopping workshop to help people plan meals for each week.
Answer this short quiz from the dietitians at EatRight Ontario. Learn what habits are good ones to maintain and which habits should change to put you on the path to better health.

Answer this short quiz from the dietitians at EatRight Ontario. Learn what habits are good ones to maintain and which habits should change to put you on the path to better health. http://www.nutritionscreen.ca/escreen/
Articles. Videos and Tips on eating healthy meals at regular intervals. Information from CaregiverStress.com http://www.caregiverstress.com/
Tips on maintaining a well-balanced diet can be difficult. Suggestions from Caregiver Stress.com on how to overcome various obstacles and challenges to eating regularly. Articles and Downloadable PDF's available. http://www.caregiverstress.com/
Nutrition Resource Centre provides a Nutrition Education Kit for Community Leaders Interested in helping older Adults learn about Healthy Eating. A 16 page PDF version document with tips and tools. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/
Nutrition Resource Centre provides a 25 page PDF version document on choosing healthy snacks. http://www.nutritionrc.ca/
Canadian Diabetes Association provides a PDF version of the Plate Method to demonstration healthy food portions and food groups. A great visual tool. http://www.diabetes.ca/documents/
The Healthy Eating Manual is about bringing good nutrition and healthy eating to life in a very practical way, incorporating healthy eating education into existing and developing program, helping community leaders to help others to learn about nutrition and healthy eating. http://www.healthyeatingmanual.ca/index.php

Inquire About Taking Calcium and Vitamin D Supplements
Why is the message important?
Research indicates that older adults are not getting enough calcium and Vitamin D.

Details of the message:
  • Research is indicating that a vitamin D supplement and calcium are important in a healthy diet and many Canadians are not receiving the daily recommended dosage for their age group that is important for bone health and the prevention and treatment of Osteoporosis.
  • These 2 supplements provide many benefits to older adults.
  • It is important to recommend talking to their doctor to ensure proper amounts of supplements for individuals.
  • Inadequate or too much may cause more harm than good.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Encourage people to talk with their doctor about all their medications and vitamins as they could have an impact on their effectiveness.
  • Try having calcium & vitamin D enriched foods such as milk, salmon, broccoli, and rice as samples at an activity.
  • Consider a dairy tasting event like soy milk, goats' milk and Paneer.
  • Promote small sunshine breaks. (remember your sunscreen)
  • Consider asking a pharmacist to come talk to your group about supplements.
  • Provide Eat Right Ontario promotional items, such as a fridge magnet or bookmark to encourage people to call with their specific dietary questions with free access to a registered dietitian.
Eat Right Ontario has PDF information on a number of vitamins and minerals and supplements. http://www.eatrightontario.ca/
Osteoporosis Canada provides information on the amount of calcium required at each stage of life and how to ensure you are getting an adequate amount of calcium every day. http://www.osteoporosis.ca/
Osteoporosis Canada provides information on the importance of Vitamin D and how it is a factor in the absorption of calcium. http://www.osteoporosis.ca/
Osteoporosis Canada provides recipes rich in calcium. http://www.osteoporosis.ca/
Health Canada has considerable information on Osteoporosis including the importance of Calcium and Vitamin D. Information can be downloaded in a printer friendly format. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/

Drink Plenty of Water
Why is the message important?
Many older adults are in a constant state of dehydration. In a dehydrated state illness becomes much more serious and overall good health is compromised. Dehydration can also cause dizziness, headache, and can increase risk of hospitalization for flu and other chronic disease.

Details of the message:
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. Try to drink water during the day.
  • Drink more water during hot humid days.
  • Drink water before, during and after being physically active.
  • Avoid sugary drinks such as pop, juice, and adding sugar to coffee or tea.
  • Some older adults don't want to drink a lot for fear of incontinence.
  • Tap water is tested for safety more often than bottled water.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Suggest participants keep a designated water container to help track the amount of water they drink each day.
  • Consider putting jugs of water and glasses on tables during events/activities/meetings.
  • Consider making a routine that activity leaders remind participants to bring water to class and drink before, during and after exercise.
Eat Right Ontario provides Tips and Facts on how to stay hydrated and how to know if you are hydrated. http://www.eatrightontario.ca/
From Regional Geriatric Program Central Hamilton a 20 page power point on understanding and promoting hydration in Older Adults. Some information refers to medical tests and outcomes but gives a good understanding of why hydration is important and how it affects other areas in the body. http://www.rgpc.ca/best/CEEFE/
College of family and consumer sciences at University of Georgia and Nutrition for Older Adults' Health has a good PDF version of a training tool to teach the importance of hydration. The 8 page PDF explains hydration in simple easy to understand point and provides handouts for participants. http://www.fcs.uga.edu/noahnet/

Practice Food Security
Why is the message important?
Older adults may not want to waste food or live on a very tight budget and may keep food well beyond the expiry date on the label. This food can become contaminated with bacteria and cause illness. Preparing raw meats require certain processes to ensure contamination or cross contamination of bacteria is kept to a minimum. Some bacteria can exist in uncooked food or can develop if food is not stored at the correct temperature. It is important to know the proper storage, preparation and cooking for all food types.

Details of the message:
  • As the body ages it becomes harder for the immune system to fight harmful bacteria making food borne illness more serious.
  • Chronic diseases such as Diabetes and Kidney disease can make fighting off infections more difficult.
  • Follow safe food-handling and cooking practices to reduce risk of illness.
  • Pay attention to expiry dates.
  • Wash re-usable grocery bags.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Post proper hand washing and surface cleaning techniques in washrooms and above all sinks.
  • Ask Peel Health to present information on food security.
  • Ask a community food advisor to come to a program.
  • Learn about food borne illness and high risk foods.
  • Display information on food storage, food preparation and cooking.
Unsafe Food Can Threaten Senior Health from Caregiverstress.com an article on why Older Adults are vulnerable to food poisoning. http://www.caregiverstress.com/
Health Canada provides Safe Food Handling for Adults 60+. Articles and Downloadable information. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/
Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada collaborated to produce informative PDF version documents on Food Safety for Older Adults. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/
Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education has produced an 8 page PDF document Food Safety for Older Adults. http://www.canfightbac.org/

Pay Attention to Sudden Weight Fluctuations
Why is the message important?
A sudden increase/decrease in weight could be a sign of a number of health concerns. For example, depression, medication side effects, or immobility. It is an indication that a visit to the doctor may be required.

Details of the message:
  • Promote healthy body images. Rather than focusing on size of an individual talk about energy in (food intake) and energy out (physical activity) and balancing energy levels.
  • Promote that sudden weight changes can indicate health issues and should be investigated by a physician.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Post information about why sudden weight changes could occur.
  • Learn who in your organization is best suited to discuss sensitive personal issues and how to talk about weight changes within your organization.
Pharmscope.com has provided a PDF version of the article written by several doctors titled Weight Loss in the Elderly: What's Normal and What's Not. An interesting article but somewhat technical. http://www.pharmscope.com/ptjournal/

Understand the Importance of the Social Component of Eating
Why is the message important?
Sharing meals with others is integral to good physical, mental and spiritual health.

Details of the message:
  • Eating with others is important for good nutrition maintaining mental health and reducing social isolation.
  • Sharing meals can address a number of areas such as loneliness lack of appetite, eating well balanced meals etc.
  • Eating with someone else eliminates the challenges of cooking a full meal for one.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Ask if participants could meet earlier or after the activity to share a meal.
  • Encourage anyone who has lost an appetite for more than a day or two to talk with their doctor.
  • Promote Take over Tuesdays. Take your meal or a portion of a meal to a friend's house and eat together.
  • Plan events around a well balanced meal. (ie. Pot luck meal before an evening or lunch event)
  • Try a multicultural food tasting event.
Yale Medical Group provides an article on the importance of Social Interaction and identifies concerns when social interaction is missing from the life of an Older Adult. http://www.yalemedicalgroup.org/
Agewell.com has an article that connects the importance of social interaction and how it affects healthy eating for Older Adults. A printer friendly PDF of the article is available. http://www.agewell.com/social/

Modify Diets for the Management and Reduce Risk of
Chronic Diseases
Why is the message important?
Eating healthy meals with modifications for chronic diseases can assist in the management and prevention of chronic disease. Some individuals feel that medication will "solve" the health concerns they are dealing with. However healthy eating can impact over all health almost as much as medications.

Details of the message:
  • Research indicates that diet has a significant impact on the prevention and management of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and mental health.
  • It is important that people living with chronic disease or at risk for chronic disease are aware of the importance of following recommend food choices as an effective way to prevent or manage a chronic disease.
  • Remind people that taking a medication is only part of disease management and it is important to follow the recommended food changes/modifications as prescribed by their doctor or a registered dietitian.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Review the health promotion calendar for designated months such as Nutrition month in March, February is Heart month, April is Cancer etc. This is an opportunity to display nutritional information that affects these diseases.
  • Learn some food changes for various diseases and identify items that are healthier choices. For example low fat milk, a low sodium diet, reduced sugar intake, and increased fibre.
  • Get more information on pre-prepared meals for your health conditions such as Meals on Wheels and other companies such as Copper County Foods.
  • If you are having meals catered ask for diabetic friendly or heart friendly menus.
  • Encourage small changes over time. Such as changing a double double coffee to a black coffee will reduce daily calories considerably, exchanging fruit juice for water and eating the fruit will reduce calories and provide more overall benefits.
Canadian Diabetes Association provides the Handy portion guide. A PDF version hand out to demonstrate how to use your hand to help measure proper food servings. http://www.diabetes.ca/Files/
Nutrition Education Resource Committee developed "Just the Basics". This PDF version tool helps educators and those affected by diabetes. PDF versions are available in a number of languages. http://www.diabetes.ca/
Heart and Stroke provide good PDF version information on a number of healthy eating topics for those living with Heart Disease. http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/
Canadian Cancer Society recommends eating healthy to reduce the risk of Cancer. A PDF version of the document supporting eating more vegetables and fruits. http://www.cancer.ca/Ontario/


Injury Prevention

Injury is a serious threat to the health and well-being of Canadians 65 years of age and older. Research has identified that for many reasons older adults are at a higher risk for many types of injuries that can lead to death or disability. Falls, elder abuse, dehydration and changes in body function are all factors contributing to injury. The OAATS steering committee has developed key messages to increase awareness of injury prevention and provide access to resources that can assist in educating older adults in lifestyle changes that can reduce the risk of injury.

Follow the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults (under 65) and Older Adults (65 +)
Why is the message important?
For older adults injuries due to falls can be very serious and can be the starting point for decline in overall health. Many older adults never fully recover from a fall. They experience loss of independence and declining health. The physical activity guidelines are developed based on extensive research and provide a minimum goal to achieve health benefits. Research indicates that physically active older adults have a reduced risk of falling than sedentary older adults.

Details of the message:
  • The guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity at intervals of 10 minutes or more.
  • Moderate intensity activity will cause a participant to sweat a little and breathe harder.
  • Vigorous intensity activity will cause a participant to sweat and to be "out of breath" or "huff and puff".
  • Examples of activity are: brisk walking, Tai Chi, bicycling, dancing, swimming lengths, fitness exercise class, running, cross-country skiing, urban/Nordic pole walking etc. The intensity of the exercise is dependent upon the effort exerted during the activity.
  • Include muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least 2 days per week.
  • Perform physical activities to enhance balance and prevent falls.
  • More physical activity provides greater health benefits.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Introduce a 10 minute activity break for activities where there is sitting for periods of time (i.e.: 10 min break to achieve moderate or vigorous activity).
  • Increase your activity time to include a walk prior to or after the activity.
  • Organize a "Try It" week where you could try different physical activities to increase awareness and participation opportunities in your area.
  • Utilize participants that have an expertise e.g. Someone could lead a multicultural dance routine for a 10 minute break or provide a "Try It" class.
Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists provides guidelines for minimum daily activity for Older Adults. http://www.csep.ca/
Strong and Steady Hospital based Falls Prevention programs. Are available at Credit Valley Hospital, Trillium Health Care Centre and Oakville Trafalgar Hospital. A Physician referral is required. Trillium Health Centre program only Strong and Steady Program Brochure.
Download PDF
City of Mississauga Stronger and Steadier Programs for those who have completed the Hospital Program or who are at risk of injury due to falls. Stronger and Steadier programs are offered on the land and in therapeutic water programs. Visit Connect2Rec
The Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport, published Prevention of Injury – a guidance document. Falls in older adults begins on page 30. Download PDF
Finding Balance Ontario a website with many resources and valuable information on fall prevention. http://www.findingbalanceontario.ca/
Get Active Mississauga provides links and resources for Older Adults to become more active. http://www.mississauga.ca/portal/

Wear Supportive Footwear
Why is the message important?
Often falls, back pain, knee pain or injuries are the result of poor choices in footwear.

Details of the message:
  • Different footwear is required for various activities and weather conditions.
  • Wear non-slip soled shoes indoors.
  • Wear proper fitting shoes that can be properly done up at all times.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Talk about what to look for when purchasing new shoes.
  • Remind people that slippers for inside use should have a non slip sole to reduce the risk of falling.
  • Display or distribute some information on proper footwear.
  • Display various types of shoes indicating their positive attributes (ie. non slip soles, ankle supports) and their challenges (very long laces, loss of traction on the soles of the shoes).
  • Ask a representative from a shoe store to present information on types of shoes, how to tell if a shoe is supportive, types of boots for winter weather.
International Council on Active Aging provides download information on overall foot care. http://www.icaa.cc/footcare.htm
Public Health Agency of Canada provides foot are Info-sheets for seniors including proper shoe recommendations http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
Finding Balance Alberta has a 2 page information sheet identifying the importance of foot care and what to look for in a falls smart shoe Download PDF

Have Regular Medical Checkups for Vision, Hearing, Medications and Physical Health
Why is the message important?
As we age there are changes to sight, hearing, medications, muscle strength and bone density that require routine monitoring. Poor vision or incorrect prescriptions for glasses are key risk factors for falls. Poor hearing can be a safety hazard if you are unable to hear warnings or sounds that would prevent an injury. Medications have various side effects that could lead to an injury.

Details of the message:
  • Many falls are related to medications that can cause dizziness. Be aware of the side effects of medications and how medications react together.
  • Eyesight should be checked once a year to ensure eye prescriptions are up to date.
  • Hearing loss can lead to misunderstanding medical and other instructions resulting in a higher risk of injury.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Encourage all participants to see their doctors (eye doctor, dentist, medical doctor for regular checkups).
  • Suggest participants discuss bone density, vitamin D and calcium supplements with your doctor. Brittle bones can increase your risk of injury in a fall.
  • Provide examples of positive stories to encourage visits to their doctors. For example a visit to the eye doctor and new eye prescriptions makes seeing everything much clearer.
  • Connect with the Peel Health Department and ask about eye, teeth and hearing screenings that may be available to older adults. Consider hosting screening sessions at your activity location or host a special event.
  • Hand out tip sheets on questions to ask during a medical, eye, hearing or dental visits.
  • Provide sensitivity/accessibility training for Instructors to empathize with participants who live with hearing or site restrictions.
  • Be sure classes and activities offered are inclusive and accessible. Discuss ways to do this For example, assistive listening devices, prop doors open, colour contrasting).
Meds Check is a program that allows Older Adults to schedule a 20 to 30 minute one-to-one meeting with your community pharmacist to ensure that you are safely and appropriately using all types of medication. The program is free just bring your health card. http://health.gov.on.ca/
Public Health Agency of Canada provides information on Hearing loss for Older Adults. A 4 page PDF is available. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
Public Health Agency of Canada provides an information sheet on vision care for Older adults. There is a 4 page PDF available for download. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/
Information from Windsor Essex County Health Unit listing various medical check ups that should take place for adults. http://www.wechealthunit.org/
A list of how to get the most from your doctor's visit from the Alzheimer's Association has a number of resources including, partnering with your doctor, care log, medication log and others. http://www.alz.org/alzheimers_

Remove Clutter
Why is the message important?
Keeping pathways wide and clear can help prevent an injury or a fall from occurring. Also over stacked shelves can be hazardous.

Details of the message:
  • Often things that have "always been around" are not noticed any more and can cause an opportunity for an injury. For example a rug that is always bunching up in an entrance way poses a risk for participants. A hallway where the lights are very dim or perhaps one light is always burnt out reduces the ability for people to see. Remind participants to look at their surroundings with "new eyes" and to look for items that could pose a risk for injury.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Remind participants, staff and volunteers to always report instances where there is a potential for injury. (ie a wet floor, a light out, a broken door etc.
  • Perform an accessibility audit at the activity location. This can be found in senior friendly accessibility checklists.
  • Review facility safety protocols to ensure a safe environment.
  • Go through a de-cluttering exercise to demonstrate how to tidy up.
  • Bring someone new into your area to view the surroundings through safety eyes.
  • Hand out some home safety check lists to participants and ask them to go through or "audit" their homes.
  • Host a safety week for the facility and home to promote ways to reduce clutter and risk of falling by listing one item/section to check/cleanup each day. (For example check your stairs today for clutter, check your rugs for bunching or sliding, ensure your tub has a non stick bottom or mat, install a grab bar, etc.
Public Health Agency of Canada offers general injury prevention information Public Health Agency of Canada - DVD
Active independent Aging provides information on determining the safety of a facility and how to reduce the risk of falls. http://www.falls-chutes.com/
Region of Peel Public Health provides a checklist for home safety. http://www.peelregion.ca/
Finding Balance Alberta has a 2 page PDF on how to be Falls smart in your home. Download PDF

Use Secure Handrails
Why is the message important?
Using handrails serve an important purpose to help provide stability and assist in weight transfer to prevent injury or falls.

Details of the message:
  • Remind participants to always check a hand railing for stability prior to using it.
  • Point out hand rails in your facility/location so participants are aware of them, encourage use of hand rails before they become a necessity. (Don't forget to wash your hands or have sanitizer at the end of handrails.)
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Remind participants to use a hand sanitizer, or wash your hands as soon as possible after using a public hand rail.
  • Try using the handrails around your facility to ensure their safety and if they allow a participant to safely attend the program.
  • Complete an audit to determine requirements for hand rails. Refer to the Mississauga Accessibility Design Handbook. Encourage the use of handrails prior to an individual's need to use them.
  • Consider the addition of a hand rail in the activity room. Would it allow for inclusion of more participants? Or participants can position themselves close to a wall to use for support or use a neighbour's shoulder.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has very detailed information on avoiding falls on stairs including hand rail information. http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/

Use Walking Aids Correctly
Why is the message important?
Many walking aids are not properly fitted to individuals and/or individuals have been supplied with a walking aid and do not have a clear understanding on how to use the tool properly. Often walking aids are misused and as a result place individuals and/or caregivers/spouses at a higher risk of injury.

Details of the message:
  • Remind participants that a walking aid is a tool to make walking safer and can be used for rest periods eg. A walker with a seat.
  • Using the tool incorrectly could put them or their caregiver/spouse in danger of injury.
  • Remind people to have their walking aids checked periodically to ensure they are still in good condition (ie. wheels, brakes) and the correct height for proper walking.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Host a work shop on walking aids. Include information on the importance of using them correctly, maintaining them well, what to avoid when using various walking aids.
  • Display information on walking aids including a video on how to use the walking aids properly.
  • Perform an audit at your program location to check accessibility.
  • Host a Try It day. Try using a cane, or a walker or a wheel chair. It could build empathy and understanding.
  • Be certain your activity location has been adjusted for the increased space requirements needed for walking aids.
Public Health Agency of Canada has a complete manual for choosing and using assistive devices.

The resource is both on line to choose appropriate sections or available as a 66 page download manual.


and PDF GO for it A guide to choosing and using assistive devices

City of Mississauga provides a 2 page PDF download on the proper use of a tour wheeled walker. Download PDF
Mayo Clinic has a 6 slide presentation on choosing and using a cane. It identifies, the importance of the handle, length, how to use it on stairs ect. http://www.mayoclinic.com/
Disabled Living Foundation in the UK has a 25 page PDF for download providing information on a wide variety of walking aids. http://www.dlf.org.uk/factsheets/

Eat Healthy Meals and Drink Plenty of Water
Why is the message important?
Eating regular healthy meals and being adequately hydrated are important to prevent falls and injury.

Details of the message:
  • Eat a minimum of 3 healthy meals per day.
  • Eat 7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
  • Drink water more often than juice, coffee or tea.
  • Follow "Eating Well" as part of Canada's Food Guide.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Ensure snacks that are offered at activities are nutritious such as fruits/vegetables.
  • Create a culture of healthy eating at the work place for employees. Ensure nutritious snacks are provided at meetings when snacks are available.
  • Encourage eating fruits and vegetables as snacks and part of a healthy meal.
  • Hand out/distribute/display the Canada's food guide.
  • Put up a display or poster than indicate what healthy serving sizes are.
  • Host a meal planning and shopping workshop to help develop and plan meals for each week. (eg. How to shop and cook for one).
  • Encourage learning how to read food labels (ie. sodium content) and to be aware of marketing/promotion tricks that make some food choices seem healthy.
Eating well with Canada's Food guide order food guides from Publications Canada. Publications Canada
Home Instead Senior Care provides some great information and downloadable resources at the bottom of the page. Cooking under pressure and the Canadian executive summary Cooking Under Pressure

Great Nutrition Tips and Recipes for Older Adults

Eat Right Ontario is a great resource for both professionals and individuals. Call and speak to a registered Dietitian free of charge. 1-877-510-5102
Eat Right Ontario Tip sheets on cooking for one or two, easy meals to make, eating alone, shopping, planning meals Download PDF
Download PDF
Download PDF
Download PDF
Health Canada provides information on Canada's food guide, making wise choices and using the food guide to maintain healthy habits. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/

Use Medication Safely Always Following Directions
Why is the message important?
The average older adult in Ontario takes six prescription medications and three over-the-counter medications a day. These medications combined can cause harmful interactions. Interactions can make a drug stronger, weaker or mixed together may cause unwanted side effects. About one in five Ontario older adults are hospitalized each year for drug interaction problems.

Details of the message:
  • Side effects of medications can affect mobility, appetite, sleep patterns, etc.
  • Medications can have a direct impact on an individual's abilities, moods, and overall health status.
  • All medications are drugs. Vitamins, herbal remedies, prescription and over the counter. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medications /drugs.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Distribute/post information that promotes the importance of taking medications correctly.
  • Inform individuals that anyone taking 4 or more medications can speak to their pharmacist and ask for a medication review/med check. This service is covered by OHIP and will provide information about the medications being taken and if there are interactions between the drugs.
  • Invite a local pharmacist to speak to your group about medications.
  • Encourage individuals to purchase all medications/drugs from the same pharmacy/pharmacist. This allows the pharmacist to check the drugs prescribed for interactions or side effects.
  • Use a magnifier if the print is too small on medications.
  • It is okay to ask for an alternate format for a prescription instructions (ie. large print).
Meds check program offered free though OHIP. The program provides a 20 to 30 min. consultation with a pharmacist to review all medications and ensure there are no contraindications and that they are being taken according to directions. http://news.ontario.ca/mohltc/
Region of Peel provides information on safe use of medications. http://www.peelregion.ca/health/
National Council on patient Information and Education is an American non-profit coalition working to improve health professional - patient communication about safe, appropriate use of medicines. The site has some good information but some is not relevant to Canada, so discretion in the use of information is required. http://www.mustforseniors.org/

Some injury prevention information gathered during the development of OAATS was very good information but either tied into more than one key message or is important information that is not directly related to a key message but valuable injury prevention information. Please see the other resources below.

Ministry of Health Promotion document Standards, Programs and Community Development branch has a 120 page document on Injury prevention. The document has information for all age groups with Older Adult information beginning on page 40 Download PDF
Lifeline provides a 2 page PDF on how to get up from a fall well illustrated with easy to follow directions. Download PDF
Life line provides some good questions to determine risk of a fall. Information is on the 2nd page of the PDF document. Download PDF
Smart Risk Download PDF


Mental Health

The definition of Mental Health from the Canadian Mental Health Association is striking a balance in all aspects of your life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental.

According to statistics Canada approximately one-fifth of Canadian men and women aged 55 to 64 and 65 to 74 reports that they are satisfied with their life and that they are in good health.

But for others the challenges that come with ageing can be debilitating. Physical ailments, mobility issues, chronic pain, cognitive and sensory impairments can affect one's functional ability. Other challenges such as retirement, changes in income, loss of a spouse or friendships through death, and new care giving responsibilities can lead to social and emotional isolation.

The OAATS mental health working committee recognized a distinct difference between promoting mental health activities and creating an awareness of mental illness.

Promoting mental health includes "brain exercises" that can be included in a number of different ways. Inclusion of mental health promotion would include some of the following:

  • providing suduko or crossword puzzles in waiting areas
  • changing a daily routine or exercise
  • learning a different language
  • promoting daily physical activity
  • learning a new game

To increase general awareness of mental illness the mental health working committee developed key messages and resources that would provide basic general information that would increase empathy for those living with mental illness. This information is provided to increase the level of understanding of various mental illnesses and more importantly where to find experts who can assist families and individuals.

Be Able to Identify the Early Signs of Depression and/or Dementia
Why is the message important?
Early identification of mental illness is important to determine treatment, or understanding. Prevention and promotion of mental health is an important message for older adults.

Details of the message:
  • It is not a normal part of aging.
  • Depression and dementia often present the same symptoms.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Talk about ways to introduce signs and symptoms of depression/dementia.
  • Use the 3D chart to determine the differences between depression and dementia.
  • Have referral information available on where to get help.
Alzheimer Society of Peel
60 Briarwood Ave.
Mississauga, Ontario
L5G 3N6
905-278-3667 (head office)
Direct e-mail:
Provides information regarding the Alzheimer Society of Peel services and programs including volunteering and fundraising; and interesting links.


Link from Alzheimer Canada website, contains information on Alzheimer Disease and related dementia in various languages including, Italian and Portuguese. http://www.alzheimer-europe.org/
Toronto Region Best Practice in LTC Initiative January 2007 Ways to Help 10 Warning Signs The importance of early diagnosis Dispelling the myths Safely home

Download PDF

Psycho-geriatric Assessment, Consultation and Education (PACE Peel) Community clinic Serves 65+ with mental health issues Assessment and home assessments

416-535-8501 ext. 7716

Be Sensitive to the Many Losses an Older Adult Might Be Facing
Why is the message important?
Recognize older adults face a lot of loss in their older years. Loss of friends, family, pets, income, having to move to an assisted facility or move in with family are all forms of losses. It can create a lot of anxiety for some.

Details of the message:
  • Many older adults face many losses, such as a loved one, their home, income or even their own mobility or health changes this will cause many some distress.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Review communication tools on ways to speak with older adults in a respectful way.
  • Consider role playing activities on how to communicate.
  • Build a trustful relationship with your participants by listening to their challenges.
  • Focus on positive ways to move forward and not to dwell on what cannot be changed.
IDEA Health and Fitness Article An excellent article for program leaders on how to assist an older adult dealing with various loss issues.

Download PDF

Have an Understanding of the Illness and Ability to Define It
Why is the message important?
Developing empathy for those undergoing mental health challenges will help to understand the individual's needs.

Details of the message:
  • Have a basic understanding of mental illness and definition of various mental illnesses.
  • Understand changes in behaviour that may be affected by the illness.
  • Have the sensitivity to the issues that face those with mental illness.
  • Always promote good mental health as part of a holistic approach.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Provide informational brochures/displays to coincide with mental health awareness for example mental health awareness week in May.
  • Review the materials in the Aging and mental health, addictions, toolkit.
  • Use a staff/volunteer meeting to review the materials in the toolkit.
  • Consider putting an article or simple definitions in communication materials.
Canadian Coalition for Seniors Mental Health Downloadable resource books written for Older Adults and their families dealing with Delirium, Depression, Long Term Care Homes, and Suicide Prevention.


A joint project of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto and Toronto Public Health have developed a manual for Best practice guidelines for mental health promotion program for older adults 55+. Downloadable PDF with easy to read information and helpful definitions.

Recognize Opportunities to Transition; Provide an Alternative and More Appropriate Programming
Why is the message important?
Providing alternative opportunities could help alleviate embarrassment or uncomfortable situations where someone is beyond their capacity to perform an activity.

Details of the message:
  • Sometimes people need to transition into other programs to be at a comfortable level for their capability.
  • Be sensitive on how you approach suggesting alternative programming or introducing something different. They may take offense for being seen as being "lowered" or changed into another group, eg. When someone isn't able to keep up at a bridge group, other members may get frustrated and it likely impacts on the participants own self esteem for not feeling worthy, or another loss of mental ability.
  • Talk positively about other programming opportunities.
  • Discuss ways to offer varying levels of programming where possible.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Suggest alternative programs by bringing brochures or flyers to introduce what else is available.
  • Consider providing various levels of programming to meet the needs of various capabilities.
City of Mississauga Recreation and Parks Recreational activities and clubs in Mississauga


Recreational Respite Therapeutic Recreational opportunities in Mississauga.


Know When to Seek Help From Other Professionals and
Provide Referrals
Why is the message important?
Having a policy or protocol in place where staff or volunteers can safely approach a manager/supervisor about supports in the community is important for the referral process.

Details of the message:
  • It is important that people feel comfortable speaking with their managers/supervisors about problem solving or referrals when you notice signs or symptoms of mental illness with their participants.
  • Know where to go for further help. There are many supports available in the community.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Talk about existing resources in the community and how to access them for help.
  • Create a protocol to follow if and when a situation arises where a referral is necessary.
  • Consider some role playing activities at a staff meeting on how to approach a situation.
Mental Health Service Information Confidential anonymous and free supports for information about programs and services

or call

Peel Elder Abuse Prevention Network (PEAPN) Overview of elder abuse, - signs, types and prevention


ACE – Advocacy Centre for the Elderly Resources – for family members and leaders. FAQ's


Ontario Problem Gambling Information and referral

Telephone helpline
Interpretation services in more than 170 languages is offered. Webchat is also available.

DART The Drug and Alcohol Registry of Treatment (DART) is a free, confidential and anonymous province-wide information and referral service that can be reached anytime with interpretation available in more than 170 languages. Webchat is also available.

or call 1-800-565-8603

Mississauga Psycho-geriatric Resource Consultant Trillium Health Centre resource consultant assistance for programs and services.

Call 416-259-7580

Older Persons'Mental Health and Addictions Network of Ontario (OPHMHAN) The Facts on Aging and Depression for Older Adults and Those Who Care About Them

e-mail opmhan@sympatico.ca
call 416-593-4094

Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) One stop for Health care information


or call
310-CCAC (310-2222)

Understand There is Always a Reason for a Shift in Behaviour
Why is the message important?
Recognizing a change in behaviour usually indicates a change in someone's circumstances or health status, mentally or physically.

Details of the message:
  • Understand that changes in health can affect one's behaviour.
  • The risk of becoming depressed is greater for those with when Heart disease, Stroke, Parkinson's, or Diabetes.
  • Insufficient sleep can cause depression.
  • There could be underlining problems such as elder abuse, loss of a family member or a change in their own health.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Have a professional come to speak about the importance of having good mental health.
  • Display information during mental health week in May such as posters or brochures.
  • Put information into newsletters, or other communication materials.
Alberta Care Giver College Explains the importance of behavioural changes and what they mean to overall health.


Here to Help BC Partners for Mental Health and Addictions Hand out information with regards to behaviour change and overall health.


Stigma is Attached to Some Illnesses
Why is the message important?
An understanding of how stigma impacts on a person with mental illness is important to understand since it often affect their self esteem or be a reason why they won't seek help.

Details of the message:
  • Stigma is associated with many illnesses but having a mental illness is somehow more of a challenge, particularly for those with a language barrier.
  • Mental illness is often called the "invisible illness", since you cannot tell if someone is mentally ill unless they tell you.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Use CAMH stigma busters as ways to show how people can talk about the subject.
  • Educate volunteers and staff members on stigma by providing sensitization training to staff.
  • Raise awareness by talking about the impact stigma can have on people.
  • Participate in stigma busting activities by eliminating terminology such as "insane", or "crazy" by speaking up and saying it is inappropriate.
CAMH An Educational Kit to Promote Awareness and Understanding of the Impact of Stigma on People Living with Concurrent Mental Health and Substance Use Problems


Beyond the Label toolkit – "stigma busters"

Take an Older Adult Seriously – Listen to What They Are Saying
Why is the message important?
Older adults need to be heard and listened to.

Details of the message:
  • Sometimes older adults are brushed off as being "just old" or they don't have anything to offer or what they are saying doesn't make any sense.
  • Make eye contact and ask if they can see or hear you.
  • Before giving information to an older person about a problem, check with your supervisor to see if you are permitted to do this. If you are permitted, ask the older adult if he or she would like this information (e.g., "Would you like to know more about how alcohol and medications can interact and cause problems?").
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Learn how to "listen" and how to identify their needs.
  • Role play some boundaries that may need to be set. Eg. it is unacceptable to be yelled at even if a person has dementia, speak to them in a clear direct voice to indicate you don't want to be yelled at.
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Tips to communicating with Older Adults including


Health Canada Handout A detailed hand book for communicating with Older Adults in many different circumstances.

Download PDF

Recognize What Elder Abuse Is
Why is the message important?
Everyone in our community deserves to feel safe, live with dignity and be treated with respect. Recognizing Elder abuse is important to prevent and eliminate abuse if it is occurring.

Details of the message:
  • Elder abuse takes many forms – financially, physically, verbally, neglect.
  • Most victims are abused by someone close to them, such as a partner, relative, friend or caregiver.
  • It is conservatively estimated that 2-10% of older adults will experience one or more forms of abuse at some point during their senior years.
  • If you suspect someone is being abused – speak to your supervisor.
  • Elder abuse can be a very sensitive issue since many may be unwilling or unable to report it due to a number of reasons; isolation, dependency, fear, control.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Have a speaker come from Elder Abuse Peel.
  • Display information on Elder Abuse during promotion week of Elder Abuse in June.
  • Educate your staff and volunteers by talking about Elder Abuse.
  • Identify signs of Elder abuse such as isolation, anxiety, malnutrition, or unpaid bills or missing property without explanations.
Peel Elder Abuse Prevention Network (PEAPN) Overview of elder abuse, - signs, types and prevention

or call

ACE – Advocacy Centre for the Elderly Resources – for family members and leaders. FAQ's
The Ontario Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse Resources for family members and professionals.



Physical Activity

Data from the World Bank, World Development indicators identify life expectancy in Canada has rose dramatically since 1960 when life expectancy was about 71 years to almost 81 years in 2009. A study completed by the National Institute on Aging that started in 1958 reveals that overall, individuals age at vastly different rates and age-related changes in various cells, tissues and organs differ as well. The study results suggest that lifestyle and disease can affect the rate of aging. Research completed around the world indicates that daily physical activity has been identified as part of:

  • a healthy lifestyle assisting in the maintenance of a high quality of life
  • beneficial in the reduction of risk to many chronic diseases and injury
  • successful in the management of many chronic diseases

Daily physical activity contributes to a high quality of life. It would be great if those additional 10 years were spent as a healthy active individual.

It is because of the importance of daily physical activity the OAATS steering committee has developed key messages for both Older Adults and those who teach physical activity to Older Adults.

It's Never Too Late to Start Being Active
Why is the message important?
Research supports that being active at any age does have overall health benefits reduce the risk of being diagnosed with many chronic diseases and helps in the management of various chronic diseases.

Details of the message:
  • Use it or lose it. Muscles that are not used stop working effectively.
  • Talk with your doctor before beginning any physical activity.
  • Start slowly then build up the amount of time and intensity of activity.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Introduce a 10 minute gentle activity break into activities where there is sitting for periods of time.
  • Learn about the Home Exercise Support Program and do the exercises as part of your daily routine. Encourage participants to become active and share success stories.
Get Active Mississauga
a great resources for encouraging physical activity for older adults. Videos and PDF info available.
International Council on Active Aging
Resource materials on Active Aging, conferences, programs, resource tools for practitioners, client handouts Round table Members Resource Directory – who's who in activity and aging
Canadian Centre for Activity and aging Research to Action
Community programming Senior Fitness Instructor course , Home Support Exercise Program, Get Fit for Active Living, VON
Clara Fitzgerald, Executive Director
Phone 519.661.1603
Fax 519.661.1612
Email: cfitzge4@uwo.ca
National Institute on Aging Publication
The aging Body. If chronic disease in not a natural part of aging, what is? This overview puts normal aging under the microscope. An excellent article looking at the aging process and what is "normal" and what may be results of long term physical inactivity. 5 page PDF article examining the aging process and the benefits of physical activity. Easy to understand and demonstrates the health benefits daily physical activity for Older Adults.
Download PDF
Overcoming Ageism
is a document worth reading to open our eyes to some of the myths and misconceptions that exist for older adults and what is perceived to be how to live the golden years.
Download PDF
The Active Living Coalition for Older Adults
provides cutting edge and practical research results in the area of physical activity and older adults and presents them in plan language for health practitioners, leaders and older adults in a number of languages other than English. Information is available on beginning to be active, aerobic fitness for Older adults, Brain fitness and much more.

Follow the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults (under 65) and Older Adults (65 +)
Why is the message important?
For older adults injuries due to falls can be very serious and can be the starting point for decline in overall health. Many older adults never fully recover their state of overall health and independence prior to the fall. The physical activity guidelines are developed based on extensive research and provide a minimum goal to achieve that would provide overall health benefits and assist with falls prevention. Research indicates that physically active older adults have a reduced risk of falling than sedentary older adults.

Details of the message:
  • The guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity of 10 minutes or more.
  • Moderate intensity activity will cause a participant to sweat a little and breathe harder.
  • Vigorous intensity activity will cause a participant to sweat and to be "out of breath" or "huff and puff".
  • Examples of activity are: brisk walking bicycling, dancing, swimming lengths, fitness exercise class, running, cross-country skiing, urban/Nordic pole walking etc. The intensity of the exercise is dependent upon the effort exerted during the activity.
  • Include muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups at least 2 days per week.
  • Perform physical activities to enhance balance and prevent falls.
  • More physical activity provides greater health benefits.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Introduce a 10 minute activity break for activities where there is sitting for periods of time (ie: 10 min break to achieve moderate or vigorous activity ,10 minute break to build muscle, 10 minute break of balance activities)
  • Increase your activity time to include a walk prior to or after the activity.
  • Organize a "Try It" week where you could try different physical activities to increase awareness and participation opportunities in your area.
  • Utilize participants that have an expertise eg. A participant leads a short multicultural dance routine, lead a 10 minute activity break (like the 7th inning stretch) or provide a "Try It" class.
CSEP – Canadian Society for Exercise Physiologists
Copies of the Physical Activity standard for Older adults are available.
Get Active Mississauga Borrow a Pedometer Program
Anyone with a library card can borrow a pedometer from a Mississauga library and begin to walk. Increasing steps in a safe manageable way will increase the daily amount of physical activity.
Tips for Walking
An easy to read PDF on tips for walking. A good hand out resource.
Download PDF
How to Start a Walking Club
Tips on things to think about and how to create a successful walking club. This resource is community based and a participant in a program could become the walking leader.
Download PDF
Start a Pedometer Challenge
Encourage participants to get a pedometer and begin a challenge, it can be individual vs. individual or it could be the group chooses a goal such as walk to England and counts their steps.
Download PDF

Activity Must Become a Priority and Part of a Daily Routine
Why is the message important?
Daily physical activity must be a priority. Physical activity is accomplished every day. A routine time for daily physical activity makes it easier to achieve.

Details of the message:
  • Physical activity is a priority. Other tasks, visits, jobs, are scheduled around physical activity. For example walk every morning at 9:00am. If the time is scheduled and a priority other life tasks will be scheduled around activity time, doctor's appointments, or grocery shopping or visits to friends will be scheduled for 11:00am after the morning walk.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Encourage routine by suggesting parking your car further away, walk for errands, and take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • For every activity that you are involved in, include a physical component ie. Get up after 30 minutes of sitting and walk for at least 3 minutes. If possible try to walk or be active for 10 minutes. This will increase your brain power too!
Alberta Centre for Active Living
Provides a physical activity counselling toolkit with information in English, French or Punjabi.
Healthy Alberta.com provides information for older adults "physical activity and excellent investment". Provides tips and information on the importance of daily physical activity. http://www.healthyalberta.com/
The U.S National Institute on Aging provides some good information on everyday exercise. How to get ready to exercise, and some sample exercises. http://www.nia.nih.gov/
Centre for Disease Control has some very good information on scheduling activities to as part of your day. It does refer to strength training but the tips are good for all physical activity. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/
Tips for increasing physical activity. An easy PDF hand out to educate older adults in the importance of physical activity. Download PDF
Tips for staying physically active. An easy PDF hand out to educate older adults in the importance of staying physical activity. Download PDF

Being Active Supports Disease Prevention and Disease Management
Why is the message important?
Research states being physical active can reduce your risk to a number of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and some cancers. It also reduces the symptoms and effects of the disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness. Being physically active can help reduce the dose amount or need for certain medications and can make daily tasks easier to perform.

Details of the message:
  • Promote physical activity opportunities and existing programming that address' different chronic diseases, eg. Classes designed specifically for people living with Osteoporosis, chair exercise classes for people with fibromyalgia, stronger and steadier classes for falls prevention, dancing classes for people living with Alzheimer's.
  • Promote daily physical activity as a recognized and accepted method of reducing risk for chronic disease.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Hand out tip sheets specific to various chronic diseases and how being active helps manage the disease.
  • Use the health promotion calendar as an opportunity for displaying physical activity for specific chronic diseases, eg. February is heart month identify programs and opportunities that exercise your heart, April is cancer month, promote how physical activity reduces your risk of various cancers including breast cancer.
Health Canada provides a complete calendar of Health Promotion days, weeks and months that are recognized in Canada and internationally. It is also possible to submit an awareness event. http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/
Ontario Stroke System and Ontario Stroke Network has developed guidelines for Community Based Exercise programs for people living with stroke. The is a download PDF guidebook Download PDF
Activity and Aging
Many organizational links to research, and information on physical activity.

Being Active Helps to Maintain Independence
Why is the message important?
Being independent (or being able to perform tasks with out assistance or becoming a burden to the family) is important to many older adults and allows them to maintain their freedom, autonomy and continue to be a contributing member to their families and community. Maintaining physical health has positive impact mental health and self esteem.

Details of the message:
  • Independence means not having to rely on help from other people for daily living tasks and body functions. You can manage your health better.
  • It's about being able to enjoy a good quality of life for the majority of your lifespan.
  • Makes daily tasks easier to accomplish.
  • Increases your quality of life.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Explain how the Home Exercise support Program relates to daily functions – bring in a trained professional to teach the exercises and how they can be completed at home.
  • Explain how certain exercises are related to daily functions and tasks. For example an arm extension over the head assists in being able to reach items on a high shelf, doing some weight training allows muscles to stay strong so that carrying groceries or grandchildren is an activity that can be maintained.
Active Independent Aging
Tip sheets/resource manual (cost $65) manual for leaders Active Independent Aging is a guide designed to promote the health and independence of older adults and veterans through: falls prevention active living friendly environments.
Mississauga Halton Falls Prevention Initiative
Simple exercises that can be done at the kitchen sink that increase balance and stability to reduce the risk of falling.
Download PDF


To Instructors who may be teaching physical activity programs/classes:

Understand the Importance of Participant Assessment
Why is the message important?
Every individual has a different level of physical ability. Successful physical activity engages participants at their current level of ability, encourages improvement, and provides permission to take a rest if the intensity or activity is too difficult. A successful instructor knows when to encourage, when to recommend a rest and how to improve the ability of all participants.

An activity that is too easy or too difficult for a participant is not beneficial and may cause injury or intimidate to the point that the participant doesn't continue the activity.

Details of the message:
  • Understand the stages of change model.
  • Know how to adapt or modify activities to be inclusive.
  • Show encouragement, and congratulate for well accomplished activities.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Consider a stage of change questionnaire to determine if participant is ready for action.
  • Consider challenges that might occur in your class and determine modifications for them in advance. Eg. Some people might use weights or not, some might be able to lift their legs, others not.
  • Imitate some participant challenges that may occur in an activity to gain appreciation and empathy for how difficult an activity could be for some individuals. eg. Vaseline on glasses, or rocks in shoes or perform the task in the Alzheimer virtual tour.
  • Get to know your participants by talking about their interests and attitudes towards being active.
Recreational Respite Inc. may be able to provide programs for individuals requiring special needs. www.recrespite.com
Active Aging Toolkit is an American resource promoting physical activity for Health care providers. The toolkit has some excellent information for both the leader and the participant. Download PDF
First Step training program for activity leaders. Promoting physical activity for health care providers. http://www.firststeptoactivehealth.com/

Understand the Importance of Safety and Risk Management
Why is the message important?
It is the responsibility of the activity leader to ensure the class environment is as safe and risk of injury is as minimal as possible. Simple checks around the activity location, modification of activities and knowledge of teaching the activity are all part of ensuring a safe, well instructed activity.

Details of the message:
  • Be sure physical environment is safe.
  • Be aware of the emergency procedures and building protocols.
  • Be knowledgeable of your participants and their abilities.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Do an audit of your space to ensure safety and accessibility by checking in with the facility manager for a review.
  • Check to see if a wheelchair or walker can move freely within your building.
  • Know how to adapt an exercise or activity to include all participants.
  • Remind participants to work at their own pace and if something hurts stop the activity and inform the instructor.
Centre for Disease Control has some good tips for exercising safely in a PDF format. http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/
Active Independent Aging provides some good tips on basic precautions that should be reviewed when inviting older adults to be more active. http://www.falls-chutes.com/

Keep things Fun and Functional; be Creative and Provide Variety Once in a While
Why is the message important?
Keeping activities fun and creative will make participants want to continue participating.

Continuing to participate in physical activity is important for overall health. Most people attend physical activity/exercise classes not necessarily for the activity/exercise itself but because they enjoy the time in the class, are able to socialize and consider the activity fun.

Details of the message:
  • A creative, fun and functional activity that is safe usually ensures the participants will return.
Examples of how to support the message:
  • Ask participants for ideas on what they would like to do.
  • Involve participants by asking if they would like to take a lead role in showing a new skill such as dancing from a different culture.
  • Try a theme class or a different exercise and show what areas of the body is working.
  • Use music that is recognizable from a specific decade. Eg. The '50's or '60's.
  • Go to someone else's class to get some ideas or tips.
USA Today news article provides some interesting comments from older adults on what motivates them to stay active. www.von.ca/en/
Love to know senior citizens have some good information on fun things older adults can do. http://seniors.lovetoknow.com/


Training Aids

The objective of the OAATS program is to improve the overall health information provided to Older Adults who participate in recreational programs.

The success of the OAATS program rests with the health promotion champions that attended the training courses or with those who are passionate about healthy active living and wish to promote it to others.

Champions can use the resources provided to educate staff/volunteers, community leaders, participants/clients and others in the importance of promoting positive key health messages to encourage change in behaviours to improve overall health and wellness.

All resources listed below were made possible because of the funding from the Ontario Ministry of Sport and Health Promotion as part of the Healthy Community Grant Fund. Any reproduction of the resources is permitted however acknowledgement of the OAATS steering committee is required.

OAATS Key Messages
OAATS key messages are easy to read clearly explained and in PDF format. They are great to review in staff meetings, trainings, and excellent tools to help prioritize which key messages are most beneficial for your organization. Physical Activity Key Messges
Download PDF

Healthy Eating
Download PDF

Injury Prevention
Download PDF

Mental Health
Download PDF

Elder Abuse
Download PDF

The video can be downloaded and used for training and presentations. Click on the link to go to the download page.

Please Note: The video file may take a while to download due to file size.
Download Video (99.5 MB)

PowerPoint Presentation
The PowerPoint presentation used in the trainings on Oct. 19th, Nov, 2, 3,4th can be used and adapted for your specific needs. Download PowerPoint

Key Message Cards
The key message cards distributed at the 4 original champion training sessions can be reproduced by your organization as required. Download PDF

Facilitation Notes
The facilitation notes come from information collected from the 2011 trainings about how to implement the key messages and the contact sheets for the people who attended the trainings. Interesting information in a PDF format. Download PDF

Myths and Facts About Aging
Myths and Facts about aging is a PDF version of the tool used at the 2011 trainings as a quick look at thoughts around ageing. Download PDF

Evaluating Training Sessions
Evaluating training sessions is important. OAATS has attached the evaluation form used in the 2011 trainings sessions. Download Word

Master Training Agendas
Agenda for a 5.5 hour training program
Suitable for individuals without any presentation or training background. This agenda allows for more discussion of topics and processing of information. Then the word doc so people can download it and make adjustments to it.
Download Word
Agenda for 4 hour training program
Suitable for individuals with a solid background in training and presenting workshops. The information is reviewed quickly with limited discussion time.
Download Word