Waltz your way into a better life

CC-BY-2.0 | Flickr images reviewed by File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske) | Photographs by Alex Proimos

As we advance in age, it is important to maintain a balanced and active life, but it is equally important to acknowledge that the range of activities we can perform diminishes.

That is why performing some physical activity is not as important as performing the right type of physical activity, taking into consideration the limitations that occur with aging:

One of the major risks regarding the elderly is connected to falling: as we advance in age, while our total body mass does not necessarily grow, our overall fat percentage is on the rise, coupled with reduced muscle mass. This contributes to loss of muscle strength, while endurance and balance are also affected, all these increasing the risk of falling (with potential for serious injury).

With this fear of falling comes a decrease in activity, which leads to further loss of balance, strength, endurance, all completing a downward spiral that could prove very harmful. There is also the aspect of „mental fitness” with cognitive functions needing to be stimulated in order to have a healthy and active life. While exercise has a positive effect on mental state, not every type of physical activity has a direct positive impact on cognitive functions.

Dancing is one of the activities that checks all the boxes:

  • It can be adapted to your current fitness level, so that it can be helpful and, most important, risk-free;
  • It helps improve overall fitness no matter the current level;
  • It improves heart condition, as it is a type of cardiovascular exercise that people preffer, as it does not require specific equipment (as opposed to riding a bicyle, for instance);
  • Besides strength, it also improves balance, which significantly reduces the risk of injury sustained from falling;
  • It could reduce joint pain and stiffness, resulting in less discomfort in everyday moving around, a massive aspect when it comes to maintaining a functional and independent lifestyle;
  • Dancing also improves timing, coordination, and multitasking, which stimulates brain activity, helping in preventing dementia and other degenerative cognitive conditions;

…and while it can be done by yourself, it is always more fun with company, which has its benefits as well:

  • It improves communication abilities;
  • It makes you feel less lonely, which decreases the risks of depression;

CC-BY-SA-3.0 | Self-published work

The “WHY” was easy to cover, but the “HOW” does not require a lot more effort: head towards your nearest seniors center and ask if they provide dancing classes; other than that, just get your “dancing shoes” (hint: almost any shoes will do!)

How can we encourage seniors to start doing sport?

Survey from 2018 “Sport and Physical Activity” Special Eurobarometer 472 showed that 61% people over 55 years NEVER exercise or play sport. The main reason of not doing sport were: lack of time, lack of motivation or interest, having a disability or illness, fact that it is too expensive, do not liking competitive activities, do not having friends to do sports with, cite lack of suitable or accessible sport infrastructure close to home.

GOAL project would like to deal with this terrifying statistics by encouraging seniors to do sport. Doing sport brings a lot of benefits – besides enhancing physical condition, it provides optimism, energy and opens people to the world! 

What should we do then to motivate older people to do sport?

Situation is much easier when seniors have practiced physical activity in the past, because they can feel this important need to be active and have some grounds.

But what about people who have never trained any kind of sport? We need to focus on working out a good motivation for them!

In our society there is a conviction that sport is tiring, too hard for seniors. That’s why we need to start our discussion from breaking this stereotype. We need to show all the positives of doing sport such as (based on EU Physical Activity Guidelines):

  • A reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Prevention and/or delay of the development of arterial hypertension, and improved control of arterial blood pressure in individuals who suffer from high blood pressure.
  • Good cardio-pulmonary function.
  • Maintained metabolic functions and low incidence of type 2 diabetes.
  • Increased fat utilisation which can help to control weight, lowering the risk of obesity.
  • A lowered risk of certain cancers, such as breast, prostate and colon cancer.
  • Improved mineralization of bones in young ages, contributing to the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in older ages.
  • Improved digestion and regulation of the intestinal rhythm.
  • Maintenance and improvement in muscular strength and endurance, resulting in an increase in functional capacity to carry out activities of daily living.
  • Maintained motor functions including strength and balance.
  • Maintained cognitive functions and lowered risk of depression and dementia.
  • Lower stress levels and associated improved sleep quality.
  • Improved self-image and self-esteem and increased enthusiasm and optimism.
  • Decreased absenteeism (sick leave) from work.
  • In very old adults, a lower risk of falling and prevention or delaying of chronic illnesses associated with ageing.

It’s also good to present strong connection between systematic activity and better physical condition, health and mood. When we are doing sport we feel much better, healthier and happier. Don’t be afraid to emphasise the fact, that when we are active our independence is growing. This is very important information for older people who very often feel stressed because of the fact, they are addicted to others. Being physical active makes them independent in many aspects of daily life!

Nowadays, its really easy to find sport offers for seniors. There are many sport classes devoted to this group of people and sometimes they are even free of charge. Look around, ask your friends, search the internet and we guarantee that you will find the best option for your senior. If not, you can always walk outside together and spend time not only active but also in family atmosfphere.

Fudamental rules of senior’s plate

Elder’s plate should be a composition of the taste and nutritional values. How to take up such a challenge? It’s important to put in some fundamental rules.

First of all, shopping. Plan your main meals in advance for the next week, pay attention to what products you already have and can use in your meals. Don’t waste food. At the same time, remember that food loses its nutritional value when it heated or froze many times.

Second of all, take care of the taste and the presentation of a plate. Eating your meals will become an enjoyment and not a sad obligation. Pay attention to the seasonal vegetables and fruits, in the winter enjoy the pickled or frozen vegetables and 100% vegetable juices, that can be a base for soups or sauces. In the spring-summer time, remember to add in some fresh herbs that you can plant on your windowsill. That way you can reduce the amount of salt in your diet.

Vegetables and fruits should be included in every one of your meals. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals. If you have trouble with chewing you can cook them for a while. Add good quality plant oils to your vegetables.  They help to dissolve some of the vitamins in the vegetables.

Pay attention to the availability of vitamin D that is included mainly in fish, vitamin B, and folic acid that you can mainly find in: Vit. B2: natural yogurts, lentil, mackerel, Vit B6: wheat germ, walnuts, wheat bran, Vit B12: natural yogurts, cottage cheese, fish – this vitamin is not abundant in vegetables, fruits or grain products. Good sources of the folic acid are leafy vegetables, citrus, full grains, and legumes.

While composing your meals, remember to pay much attention to good quality sources of calcium. Your daily need for calcium is 1200 mg. To deliver that amount of calcium, a really important microelement equip your meals in milk, yogurts, kefir, buttermilk, fish that have a skeleton like sardines or sprats, eggs, almonds, kale, sesame, legumes.

In order to provide yourself with energy use grain products, especially full grain (wholemeal bread, spelt bread, graham bread, full-grain pasta, thick groats). If after eating those things you feel discomfort, change your assortment and choose options with more fiber. Stay away from any pastries. If you feel like you need something sweet fix yourself a natural yogurt with seasonal fruits and a tablespoon of muesli.

When you use protein-rich products more than usual, look for products made of turkey, chicken, fish, cooked legumes. Rarely use red meat – especially when thinking about cooking. Cooking stewing, baking. Always add seasonal vegetables to your meal. Make sure to eat oily fish twice a week. Eggs are rich in vitamins and minerals so they can be exchangeable in the protein group.

Make sure your meals are regular. Try to eat in peace with no rush. Be welcome to add healthy oils, nuts, seeds, and olives to your meals. An important element of a sustainable diet is the right amount of water.

It can be spa water that you drink in between your meals. When planning meals you can add in tea and coffee if there are no medical restrictions. You can increase your fluid consumption by adding soups to your meals and drinking smoothies without sugar.

How to overcome a loneliness?

Loneliness is a serious problem among elderly people. Fortunately, loneliness can be overcome and it’s not so hard to do that. Below you will find some tips that might be helpful (www.psychcentral.com).

Make friends

Make the effort to meet new people. At first, you may simply enjoy the companionship of a casual acquaintance. But over time, some of these relationships will grow into close friendships, the kind you can turn to for emotional support.

Your local senior center and area agency on aging are great resources, often organizing classes, outings and social functions for people who want to enjoy life with other seniors. Churches, health clubs, civic and service organizations, educational classes, travel clubs, and special interest groups are good places to meet people of all ages.

When you see an opportunity to introduce yourself, do so! Ask others about themselves and let people know something about you. Most people are happy to include newcomers, but growing new friendships requires ongoing contact.

Meanwhile, don’t forget old friends and neighbors. Invite a friend with whom you’ve lost touch for lunch or organize a neighborhood get-together. Someone always has to take the initiative-it might as well be you.


Volunteering your time and talents can help to put your own situation in perspective, bringing to light the positives and the things you can be thankful for. Check your local phone book under “volunteering” for organizations such as RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program). You also can check with your local senior center, area agency on aging and hospital for volunteer opportunities.

Take up a hobby

Hobbies can keep you motivated and forward-thinking. Through hobbies, you can set goals, like finding that rare stamp to add to your collection or knitting a stocking for your grandson’s first Christmas. Plus, many hobbies are possible if your mobility is challenged.

Adopt a pet

Most people don’t feel so alone in the company of a pet. Why? Pets love unconditionally, they are accepting, they don’t criticize, they don’t judge, they forgive and they give pleasure. Plus, caring for a pet can renew meaning and purpose in your life.


Life review will help you recall the aspects of life and living that matter to you. Research shows that people who reminisce have enhanced emotional health and are less likely to be lonely or withdrawn.

If you are homebound

Meeting people can be particularly difficult if you are homebound. Call your area agency on aging or place of worship to inquire about home-visitation services as well as community transportation for elderly people. You also can contact Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly, which serves lonely and isolated elderly in eight U.S. cities.

Look out for depression

Loneliness can indicate depression, a disease causing mental and physical deterioration. Feelings of sadness and despair, loss of appetite, apathy, reluctance to make decisions, suicidal thoughts, and trouble sleeping are signs of depression and should be discussed with your health-care provider.

Eat a rainbow for your health!

Do you know that fruits and vegetables often get their colors from the nutrients they have inside?

Consuming a rainbow of fruits and vegetables helps insure you get enough of the different nutrients you need for good health.

  • Red foods include tomatoes, cherries, watermelon, beets and peppers are likely to be rich in the antioxidants anthocyanin and lycopene, which are valuable for heart health.
  • Green vegetables provide vitamins C, K and E, which can all help support the immune system, healthy bones, eyes and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
  • Orange and yellow foods get their hue from beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is vital to good bones and healthy skin.
  • Blue and purple fruits and vegetables get their color from anthocyanins. Blue foods like blueberries have compounds that act as anti-inflammatories, reducing the risk of disease in your esophagus and colon.
  • White fruits and vegetables provide dietary fiber which helps protect against high LDL cholesterol levels, and thath’s gives protects heart health.

Get more colors on your plate and enjoy your health!

“Take advantage of every opportunity – don’t just sit in the house”

Who can tell about ageing more than seniors? Their knowledge and experience are really precious so we should listen to them and take their advice to our hearts!

Below we present an interview with Pam Zeldin, 94, from Manchester  made by The Guardian.:

“I live with my sister Nora, who is 98, and we look after each other. Ten years ago her husband died and both her daughters were living in France at the time, so I said she could come and stay with me. We have always got on very well, and work as a team. We do all our own housework and have a chap who comes to tend to the garden. We clean the house together – she does the upstairs and I do downstairs. She cooks, and I do everything I can to help. My main advice for people who want to live to a good age is to look after your health and live moderately. Also, get enough sleep, and don’t drink to excess – that said, Nora does enjoy a little G&T in the evenings!

When I retired, I joined a local choir and the Townswomen’s Guild. Getting involved in the community is really important as you get older because it broadens your social circle and your interests. I have always tried to get out a lot. I have two daughters, one of whom lives very nearby, so she often gives us a lift, or we’ll get a taxi. She also takes us on trips to places nearby, which we really enjoy. I have a scooter which comes in very handy and we have a little push trolley for when we go shopping. We also go to the cinema and the theatre, and on coach trips around the country. We go to the library and get our medicines delivered. We can’t go too far but we manage just fine.

I have learned that tolerance and routine is good. And to look after yourself and stay as active as possible. Being in your 90s is not as fun as other ages because you’re not as active, and your mobility is restricted. But you have to learn to cope as best you can. We have visitors – my other granddaughter who lives in London has come to Manchester University, so I am here for her at any time. It’s wonderful having grandchildren in the family.

What would I tell my younger self? I think I’ve done ok, but I would say, start as early as you can to make yourself financially stable for when you get older, so that you don’t have to worry. Take advantage of every opportunity – don’t just sit in the house. Also, travel as much as you possibly can – see the world, live well, take care of yourself. But don’t take things too seriously – it’s important to have lots of fun along the way too.”

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/feb/23/90-year-olds-avoid-stress-be-useful-long-happy-life

Understanding Your Aging Parents

Nothing will change the fact that our parents are getting old. It is a difficult process for them so we should help them understand and accept it. It is worth getting a grasp on the things that worry them. A recent study conducted for the Home Instead Senior Care network identified the top 10 things seniors fear most that we found on a website of Daystar Retirement Village (www.daystarseattle.com).

1. Loss of independence

We spend our whole lives learning to be independent and take care of ourselves. The thought of turning that responsibility over to others is frightening. That independence is something we all cherish because it’s the core of living life on our terms. As parents age, they begin to see this independence slowing slipping away as their cognitive or physical health deteriorates.

It’s essential they keep as much control over their lives as possible, so always try to ask if you can help or offer options instead of making major decisions for them. For example, instead of saying “Don’t change that light bulb, you might fall!” ask “Would you like me to check or change any light bulbs?”

2. Declining health

Your aging parents see their physical condition deteriorating. They wonder how much longer they’ll be able to do the things they enjoy. Declining health, of course, goes hand in hand with loss of independence and is often a tough subject to talk about. Your parents may reach a point where they need daily assistance with personal care or can no longer safely maintain their home but resist help because they fear they’ll lose their independence or home.

Your best bet is to research options and have a candid talk with your folks about the results you’ve found. The Institute on Aging reports 91 percent of seniors have one or more chronic conditions, so your parents’ declining health is not isolated. Physical limitations increase with age, and 65 percent of seniors requiring long-term help rely on family and friends. Another 30 percent use paid assistance, so you should determine what they need now and may need in the future and plan accordingly.

3. Running out of money

Many seniors fear running short of funds. Even those who have been prudent and wisely put aside funds sometimes worry that they won’t have enough. They worry about what will happen to them—and the burden it could put on their loved ones. It’s often hard for seniors to talk about money but you can ease into the conversation slowly. Make sure their basic expenses are covered then gradually open the discussion to their long-term financial plans. One conversation opener is to ask how they’d like their affairs handled if they become incapacitated to broach the subject.

Make a detailed budget with your parents to reassure them of their financial security. Don’t forget savings and emergency money for vehicles, home repair, and similar big-ticket items that may need to be purchased in the future.

Once you have expenses and savings covered look at Medicare comprehensive supplementary plans and determine what they can afford compared to what is covered. The cost of health care can cause financial hardship, so planning in advance for a possible medical emergency will ease the worry of running out of money.

4. Not being able to live at home

For most seniors, home is much more than the house they live in. It’s a place packed with memories. It’s familiar. It feels safe, and it’s a huge part of their identity. Like most fears, talking about the subject will help alleviate the stress. Discuss future options such as hiring a live-in companion, downsizing, and senior housing. Be sure to listen carefully to your parents’ opinions. Help them research their options, explore the cost of care, and define housing options rather than demand they downsize and move.

Get a list of local providers for in-home help, live-in companions, and similar programs that will help your parents stay in their home. Research retirement and assisted living communities in your area and take a tour of the three your parents like best. Remind them they are looking at options, not planning a move. Once they understand the different possibilities for various scenarios, they won’t have to worry about what the unknown future might bring.

5. Death of a spouse or other family member

The older our parents get, the more of their friends and relatives they see passing on. In addition to being a reminder of their own mortality, there is a genuine sense of loss of relationships. It’s harder to build lasting relationships at an advanced age. Most seniors worry more about losing a loved one than they do their own death and fearing the loss of a caregiver can be extremely stressful. Discussing the possibility is the best answer because it allows your parent to look at the future more objectively.

The best way to bring this up may be to talk about your own mortality. Make a Will and a Living Will and let them know your wishes if you were to become incapacitated or die. This will open the discussion of their own plans and let them talk about what worries them about losing a spouse or other family member.

6. Inability to manage their own activities of daily living

Perhaps nowhere is the loss of independence so acutely felt as in the inability to perform normal acts of daily living, such as eating, dressing, and bathing. Older adults fear losing control of their lives and requiring help in these areas is an unwelcome reminder of that. It’s important that your parent continue to do as much as possible even if it takes twice as long. Mental and physical activity is also vital because it lessens dependence, so look for senior yoga classes and similar activities that will help your parent build their strength.

Activities of daily living (ADL) are one of the things we all take for granted until we can no longer do them. If you’ve ever had a surgery or injury that makes it hard to do something simple such as brush your hair or shower you can imagine how hard it is to lose that ability permanently. Let them know it’s sad but no big deal and help them find a solution if the problem becomes too much to handle alone. Again, there are home care aides that visit specifically to help with ADLs, so there is always an answer to a problem.

7. Not being able to drive

Giving up the car is a severe blow to seniors. It’s one more act of independence that they have to forfeit. They are no longer free to come and go as they please but have to depend on others. Remember the freedom you experienced the first time you got the car keys in your teenaged hands? That’s the independence they fear losing. If it’s no longer safe for your parents to drive, you should make sure they have reliable transportation, even if it’s just for a spur of the moment Sunday drive.

Perhaps the best thing to do in this case is to reassure them that it’s no big deal. Most communities have shuttles for seniors so they can still shop, go to appointments, and enjoy recreational activities. Find the options available in your family and your community and help your parents segue into a non-driving lifestyle. If they must rely on a shuttle service, offer to join them for the first few trips until they’re comfortable going alone. If they need to rely on family members, make a calendar with a clear rotation and appointments, so everyone is on board with who needs to drive them where, and when.

8. Isolation or loneliness

We’ve already mentioned that it’s increasingly hard to establish new relationships and being alone increases feelings of being “unwanted.” Likewise, losing the ability to drive heightens the fear of isolation or loneliness, and both can lead to depression. Whether it’s rotating family member visits or a network of neighbors, it’s important that seniors get out and about and socialize regularly. Look for activities at the nearest senior center and check your county’s senior resources for activities and social events they may enjoy.

Remember walking into a new group or senior center may feel awkward to them, so it’s a good idea to go with them the first few times. Most senior centers offer periodic trips to local sites and events, so go over the calendar with your parents and choose one or two day trips you can enjoy together. By the end of the second trip they will feel comfortable with the group as a whole, and most likely will have struck up a friendship with one or more fellow travelers.

9. Strangers caring for them

We all generally prefer to be around familiar faces. Having a stranger provide care (especially for intimate needs) is extremely uncomfortable. While having a family member as the primary caregiver may be ideal, it isn’t always feasible, so if your parent needs outside help you should vet the person carefully and make sure a family member is present until you’re sure your mom or dad is comfortable being alone with them. Listen carefully to any concerns your parent has and don’t discount their (or your) instincts if something feels “off.”

10. Fear of falling or getting hurt

Most seniors know that they are not as sure of foot as they once were. They know that if they fall or otherwise injure themselves that it will impact their ability to do things on their own. Ironically, the most valid fear comes in 10th place in senior concerns because the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states one in three seniors has a fall each year: this is the most likely fear to come true. Many falls can be prevented so install handrails, remove slipping hazards such as rugs, and take as many other precautions as possible. Check medications for side effects that may cause dizziness and keep on top of your parents’ health.

Gdynia Council for Seniors – what is that?

They advise, propose ideas and find new solutions – Gdynia Council for Seniors is an advisory team of the Mayor of Gdynia in matters concerning the needs of older residents and is an important link in the system of involving residents in co-deciding about the city.

11 members of the Council are representatives of organizations and local communities working for the benefit of seniors, including the City Hall, Senior Activity Center, Municipal Social Welfare Center, senior clubs and University of the Third Age.

photo: www.cas.gdynia.pl

Thanks to the extensive interests of its members, it is possible to exchange knowledge and experience, which results in a real impact on shaping the city’s social policy. During the meetings, held at least once every three months, the Council develops ideas and undertakes specific actions for the implementation of programs related to broadly defined support and activation of seniors.

It was thanks to the initiative of the Gdynia Council for Seniors that the 60+ age group gained a special card. This card gives them many benefits, including viewing matches played at the Municipal Stadium, using the services of doctors or beauty salons with a discount. After the Senior Plus Card was introduced, the number of Gdynia’s seniors taking up activities within the framework of activities organized and supported by the local government, increased in a short time to 13.000!!!


  • over 2 thousand people signed up for lectures and activities of the University of the Third Age,
  • the title of the City of Friendly Aging – awarded in 2016 by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the first city in Poland. Thus, Gdynia became a member of the Global Network of Towns and Municipalities of Friendly Aging, gathering over 300 cities from around the world and covering over 100 million inhabitants,
  • The Commissioner for Citizens’ Rights has twice awarded Gdynia with an entry in the Book of Good Practices for Social Participation of Older People,
  • 6.200 people use the Senior Plus card, which allows access to many discounts for various services and access to cultural and sports events,
  • seniors can use free fitness, yoga, pilates or Zumba classes organized by Gdynia Sports Center,

It’s really worth taking and example!

First kick-off meeting in Gdynia

From 29 to 31 January 2019 all the team members of the project “Go Out And Live – creating conditions conducive to maintaining the highest quality of seniors’ lives” met in Gdynia. Project leader – Gdynia Sports Center – hosted  the representatives from Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and Romania. The meeting started from presentations of each institution to familiarize others with activities carried out on various levels strictly related to the target group of the project. Partners talked also about key activities of the project, budget, organisational rules, dissemination and evaluation. The main objective of the discussion was to exchange experience and knowledge about work with seniors.

From the beginning of this idea, the common goal has been enriching the standards of care services for the elderly by raising the qualifications of people working with seniors on their daily basis. Therefore, inspired by the involvement of such an experienced group of partners, we are ready for further activities that will be carried out until April 2020.

As a group of people who want to change seniors’ lives, we believe that our energy and creative work will result in final outputs.


Active Senior Day in Gdynia

Yesterday 21st January 2019, seniors from Gdynia celebrated their special day – Grandma and Grandpa Day – in a very active way!

Several hundred enthusiasts of a healthy lifestyle took part in fifth edition of the Active Senior Day organised by Gdynia Sports Centre. Seniors showed their great physical condition through their participation in fitness and dance classes run by professional trainers.

Not only sports activities were prepared for seniors, but also workshop called Psychology of color, which will explain how the choice of colors affects our emotionality and what colors speak about ourselves.

– We know how important physical condition for seniors is. Therefore, this year, just like in the previous years, we prepared not only sports activities, but also meetings with health professionals and exercises of the body and mind – says Rafał Klajnert, director of Gdynia Sports Center. – We have invited to cooperation institutions such as: Experyment Science Center, SWPS University, U7 Center and Ciapkowo – he adds.

Seniors could get to know how they should take care of their physical condition, listen about positive aspects about walking with dogs, play bowling and strain mind during art classes.

Project GOAL has its own area during the event. Participants could get to know its main objectives, activities but also take a Physical Activity Diary that (we hope) will motivate them to be more active!

Thank you for your great attention and see you next year!

Dzień Aktywnego Seniora || fot. Dawid Linkowski || GCS

Dzień Aktywnego Seniora || fot. Dawid Linkowski || GCS

Dzień Aktywnego Seniora || fot. Dawid Linkowski || GCS

Dzień Aktywnego Seniora || fot. Dawid Linkowski || GCS

Dzień Aktywnego Seniora || fot. Dawid Linkowski || GCS

Dzień Aktywnego Seniora || fot. Dawid Linkowski || GCS