Aged Care residents shine at the Kaumātua Olympics

Aged care residents have had a ball competing at the 13th annual Kaumātua Olympics, in New Zealand. They donned their uniform with pride and danced the day away, and say they can't wait to do it all again.

While you won’t find high jump or hurdles at this Olympics, you will find wheelchair relays, dancing, bowls competitions, and a huge amount of spirit.

A team of young-at-heart competitors from Bupa Eventhorp had been busy preparing for the Kaumātua Olympics, which were held in the Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton.

A group of  the care home's residents attended last year as spectators, and thought it looked like so much fun, they wanted to form a team. 

“We have been inundated with requests from residents and supporters to attend,” says Activities Coordinator Elizabeth Bentley. “Now we have a team of ten residents and four support employees.”

A 'Kaumātua' is a Māori elder, and while these Olympians may be senior in age, they're still as competitive as ever.

“I’m 84 and I’m still going to give it my best shot,” said resident Sally Waring.

“I’m looking forward to wearing our team uniform and name tag,” said resident Gillian Lowrie.

Watch their efforts here:

Their hard work paid off, they made Bupa Eventhorp proud.

"I think their favourite activity was the memory activity, they had to recall what was underneath the covered blanket, and we got 19 out of 20 for that so we did pretty well!" said Elizabeth.

"Seeing our residents really participating and enjoying themselves, that’s what it’s all about."

To enter, participants must be over 55 and, while the event promotes healthy lifestyle choices, the games themselves require as much mental focus as physical prowess and include activities like Boccia, Quoits, Memory Game, Kumba (dancing) and Wheelchair relay.

In the past participants have been known to employ trickery to win in an atmosphere that is highly competitive.

The Kaumātua Olympics attracts between 300 to400 visitors each year from as far afield as Palmerston North to Whangarei and celebrates the contribution of older people in our community.

Sharon Preston, Community Liaison Manager for Bupa, has been involved with the event for the past five years since Bupa began sponsoring it.

“It’s so rewarding to watch our older folk, our Kaumātua, enjoying themselves and having fun,” Sharon says.

“The event promotes movement and social interaction which fits with what we do at Bupa and visitors are also exposed to healthy lifestyle options”.

As part of the preparations, Bupa Eventhorpe created bibs and a banner which was used for the Olympics opening ceremony.

"Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it they've said they now want to come back every year!" said Sharon.

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