Occupational therapy students enrolled in the course, Human Development for an Aging Population, recently attended two community aquatic programs with aging adults to learn about health promotion and wellness. The class along with Associate Professor Dr. Ruth Ford engaged in aquatic exercises at Baptist Hospital Fitness Center and an arthritis aquatic program at the Dayani Center at Vanderbilt Medical center. Students identified water exercises as being a meaningful occupation for seniors and were able to distinguish the variance in demands on body structure and function while in the water while experimenting with the adaptive aquatic equipment.
The older adult swimmers shared their rationales for participating regularly in aquatic exercises to maintain strength, range of motion, control pain, and to stimulate overall well being and emotional health. The oldest male swimmer was 96 years old, another 86. Several of the women stated they had been attending regularly 3-5 times a year for up to 10 years. The class experience helped students identify community resources; provide inter-generational activity; and develop awareness of value of aquatic therapy.