Incorporating: Eloquence Languages and Translations

The International Association for Medicine and Sport Science (AIPMSS) conference on "Les Seniors et le Sport" - Sea Club Hotel Meridian Beach Plaza Monaco, 16 & 17 April 2010

Judy with Dr Patrick Coudert, President of the organising committee on 17 April at the end of of the second day of conferences and workshops on the emerging issue of dealing with and  managing physical capacity for sport in an increasingly aging population. Judy took an active part in the plenary session that brought together medical health-care providers, sportsmen and women and the general public to inform and debate on an issue that is affecting many now and will affect all of us sooner or later. How do we stay active for longer and longer and longer? As life expectancy increases so do individual expectations as to prolonging physical ability and agility. What communication strategies do doctors know need for dealing with these patients? Said Judy: "I was delighted that Dr Coudert once again invited me to attend this annual conference. The quality of the speakers was exceptional and the panel discussions revealed a number of communication challenges that I feel able and ready to address with the various actors in the health care industry. Doctor-Patient relations are becoming and must necessarily continue to become less prescriptive-restrictive and more communicative-holistic. "

 

When at 70 years of age you can still consider yourself if not young at least fit and active in the sports arena, then there is certainly a case for health care professionals to reassess how they communicate with this population whose expectations of living a longer, healthier life are posing challenges of new kinds to the medical profession. Health in an ever aging population needs to be managed in an entirely different way. Your traditional 70 year old is no longer content to consult his doctor to prepare the best way to die but how to manage what may be another 30 years of LIFE.  The health-care professional is now faced with a whole new ball game in terms of communication. On the one hand he is faced with encouraging those who don't and won't take any form of physical exercise to do so, or face "sitting out" the next quarter century as a very bored and depressed spectator and on the other with helping the former high performance athlete understand what the limitations are and helping them 'manage' the next 25-30 years so that they can continue to practise a regular form of physical activity to a satisfactory level.

Never have communication skills been so important and as many of the doctors told me, never have they felt so unequipped to deal with this. The traditional role of the prescriber is being challenged to becoming that of what I call "life facilitator".

One of the key messages from the conference was that inflammatory diseases will need careful and long term management. We are talking about an age group that cannot expect a quick fix 'cure' but rather a mid to long term management plan to alleviate pain, recover mobility and increase quality of life . The dialogue between Doctor and Patient will be critical and has never been so important if compliance to treatment is to be respected. Treatments don't always work or there are side effects or cardio vascular complications. Chronic inflammatory disease is not easy to handle and yet it is and will continue to be on the increase.

Osteoporosis presents another 'aging population ' challenge as breakages and fractures are synonymous with an increased mortality rate. Menopause which represents another communication minefield needs to be fully addressed when you consider that 40% of menopausal women are affected by osteoporosis. 

This is where the sport's dialogue finds its true hunting ground. From age 50 where bone mass begins to significantly break down, the doctor needs to drive home the preventative medicine approach. Physical exercise is crucial and must be regular to make a difference. Calcium supplements need to be discussed and taken seriously. The doctor needs to spend time explaining the stakes to his patient.

If we consider that in a few years over 55% of the American population will be over 65 years old, then we need to re-evaluate the consultation room and the time we spend consulting for the desired effect to be achieved. Communication is not an option but a necessity where the psychological and social effects of aging can also be improved through physical exercise.

The health-care provider will find himself increasingly in the role of sports prescriber/facilitator and will need to help his patient choose the most appropriate sport according to their age and physical condition. This becomes increasingly important where the patient was not a former 'competitor' or regular sports enthusiast in their youth. It needs to be stressed that one full out session per week will do more harm than good (referred to in the conference as 'Les Tarzans du Dimanche') and in the same way the former competitor who insists on continuing the same programme as per ten/twenty years ago, will reap injuries and not benefits.

Specialists recommend 3-6 sessions per week of 30-60 minutes duration in cycles of 6-12 weeks.

Results are significant with 50% reduction in muscle fiber loss for 3 sessions per week. For post menopausal women, one hour of sport, three times per week could prevent osteoporosis. Physical exercise will halve  the number of falls of those patients over 70 years of age. The onus is therefore on educating doctors to educate their patients in PREVENTION rather than just cure.

Communication also rejuvenates. Getting an aging population out and about and socialising delays the effects of aging.

We are all getting older but are not necessarily ready to go or die for a long time yet. We need to retrain doctors for this more communicative, human approach in dealing with their patients. The doctors themselves told me that they had not been prepared for this role. For the emerging young professionals we need to integrate these skills into medical training now, for those currently practising we need to offer them seminars where their communication skills can be re-evaluated and built upon to suit the current context.

If you would like to know more about possible training courses or coaching sessions, please contact me on : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Judy with Dr Patrick Coudert