Occupational therapy and physical activity interventions to promote the mental wellbeing of older people in primary care and residential care: This guidance was previously entitled 'Mental wellbeing and older people'

NICE guidelines [PH16] Published date:

Review decision date: March 2015

Review decision: 

No update required - published guidance still current

Next review date: November 2017

This guidance is for all those involved in promoting older people's mental wellbeing. It focuses on practical support for everyday activities, based on occupational therapy principles and methods. This includes working  with older people and their carers to agree what kind of support they need.

NICE recommendations include the following:

  • Offer regular sessions that encourage older people to construct daily routines to help maintain or improve their mental wellbeing. The sessions should also increase their knowledge of a range of issues, from nutrition and how to stay active to personal care.
  • Offer tailored, community-based physical activity programmes. These should include moderate-intensity activities (such as swimming, walking, dancing), strength and resistance training, and toning and stretching exercises.
  • Advise older people and their carers how to exercise safely for 30 minutes a day on 5 or more days a week, using examples of everyday activities such as shopping, housework and gardening. (The 30 minutes can be broken down into 10-minute bursts.)
  • Promote regular participation in local walking schemes as a way of improving mental wellbeing. Help and support older people to participate fully in these schemes, taking into account their health, mobility and personal preferences.
  • Involve occupational therapists in the design of training offered to practitioners.

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