Concept & Initial Situation
„Schritt halten – aktiv älter werden in Reutlingen“ (‚Keep Up - Active aging in Reutlingen’) is a project which aims to promote safe physical activity in older people.
Living independently as long as possible can be aided by physical activity. Physical activity prevents fractures caused by osteoporosis and has a positive impact on the cardiovascular system, the locomotive system and the cerebral performance. The resulting benefit can be proven even in advanced old age. Nevertheless, older people tend to exercise less and less, the older they become. This is what the project aims to address.
Fractures, caused by falls, are a growing problem for the aging population. Around one third of all people over 65 years of age fall at least once a year. When it comes to preventing falls, neither surgical procedures nor medication are effective. The focus has to be rather on changing the exercise habits among elderly people, affecting their risk behavior and adapting their environment.
Model region Reutlingen
Just outside of Stuttgart lies the city of Reutlingen with around 112,000 inhabitants. The city is characterized many sports clubs and various initiatives. Even before the project started, the municipality paid close attention to older people living independently. The city area consists of an urban center and rural districts. Thus, Reutlingen was an exemplary municipality to develop a preventive strategy.
The prevention program's target group is the population 65 years of age and older. In order to meet the requirements of a population group as big and heterogeneous as this one, the measures have to be varied. Existing structures and ways of promoting safe physical activity among older people are used and strengthened. New networks and partnerships create syn-ergetic effects that make stakeholders and the public aware of issues like "exercising in older age" and "risk of falling". To achieve successful prevention, public awareness is a necessary requirement.
The project aims at a participatory approach. Local participants and older citizens are inte-grated into focus groups. Local stakeholders and decision makers of various relevant institu-tions, organizations and associations, as well as the city of Reutlingen are brought together in a steering committee. This committee helps to shape the project's local dimension and pri-oritize the developed ideas. Local structures are used for the actual implementation. Thus, sustainability is assured, even once the project has ended.