Is there still a rebellious child lurking in all of us? Well, all I can say is that mine is alive and well. I am extremely self-motivated to do what interests me or things I know I need to do but even now – choose the wrong time or method to try to get me to do something you want me to do…and you won’t get very far!
Roar – Connections for Life’s mission is to reduce social isolation in older age. This is inextricably linked with getting people to look after themselves so that they can maintain their independence in the community for longer. Active aging helps prolong connections and wellbeing but what we have learned here at Roar is that the way we encourage people to take more care of themselves needs to be delivered with great skill and humour if we are going to affect any real behaviour change. This is how we came up with a range of our self-management messages – Roar’s One Legged Wobble Challenge being our most successful to date.
I’m not an anthropologist or psychologist but I am very enthusiastic about trying to come up with new ways to convey safety and health advice so as Jennifer Aniston used to say “Here comes the science bit—Concentrate!”
Rather loosely, I think there is a lot of merit in ‘Nudge Theory’ where positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions can influence groups or individuals to accept a message and change behaviours. I also think that the general application of Modern Transactional Analysis is really valuable. If you come at me with your ‘Controlling Parent’ telling me what to do then you will not get the best response and sometimes that’s how statutory messages and the way they are delivered appear to make people feel.
The One Legged Wobble Challenge was really an ‘homage’ to the Ice Bucket Challenge – except we were not looking to make any money from it, just awareness raising! The idea is simple. A healthy adult should be able stand on one leg with their eyes open for around 30 seconds and should manage to stand balanced on one leg for 10 seconds with both eyes closed. We made a fun wee film that is on YouTube and we encouraged people young and old to take part – and they did! Lots of people took the challenge and this has helped us to start the conversation about the importance of good balance.
Our website carries information and links for people who want to know more and how to find help and we are delivering more and more OTAGO classes to help people make that change. I hope it also started a lot of middle-ish aged people thinking about their balance too as our balance starts to deteriorate from 40 onwards. It certainly had an effect on me! Standing in meetings encouraging everyone to get up and test themselves it soon became apparent that my closed-eye balance left a lot to be desired and I have taken up strength and balance exercises since.
So nudge yourself and others around you, have a laugh and see if some of what you learn can change yours or others self-management behaviour without causing a fuss.
Nicola Hanssen is General Manager at Roar – Connections for Life Ltd