Getting old need not necessarily mean poor quality of life. As a geriatrician I work with elderly people in the hospital, and I realised that we had an anachronistic healthcare model. Though it cured people of conditions like pneumonia and gave them access to the latest technology, on many occasions it also converted them into dependents. This is because hospitals are designed for people to stay in bed and move around as little as possible which, after some days, results in patients’ functionality deteriorating and their limitations increasing. I have tried to reverse that damage, caused by the very healthcare system.
To do so, in collaboration with my research team I designed an individualised programme of physical activity for elderly people admitted to hospital. It included a range of exercises that worked on aerobics, balance, strength and resistance, adapted to the characteristics of each person, which had to be performed on a daily basis. In a clinical trial with a control group we observed that the programme led to improvement, not only in physical functionality, but also at the cognitive and emotional level and overall quality of life.