Research: Cycling without Age – promoting aged care wellbeing

The project is now part of regular activities at Bolton Clarke’s Rowes Bay community.

An Australian first research project based on the experiences of Townsville aged care residents participating in Cycling Without Age has reinforced the benefits of trishaw rides for aged care residents.

The study, published in the Australasian Journal on Ageing, was conducted in 2019 at Bolton Clarke’s Rowes Bay 102-bed care home in Townsville, Queensland.

The program involves volunteers taking residents and their family members for trishaw rides along the Rowes Bay foreshore in purpose-built electric tricycles driven by trained pilots from the cycling community.

During the 12-week study period, 30 residents took a total of 216 rides.

Key benefits included eliciting memories and new experiences, giving rise to positive emotions, interacting with the community and a break from daily routine.

Cycle pilots, family members, employees and residents all reported positive outcomes that lasted beyond the ride itself.

“Before we left, my mother could barely keep her eyes open. Once we got out, she was wide awake, she was happy, she was waving – it gave her a new lease on life,” one family member said.

Riding along The Strand reconnected residents with familiar places from their past with one resident saying “oh, the memories [it] brought back.”

“You feel good…mentally it makes you feel happy,” another participant said. Researchers found social engagement with the broader community was another benefit.

“The residents like waving and talking to people – I’ve often stopped and they’ve had a chat to other people. They like the interaction, the socialising,” one pilot said.

Researchers said residents reported feeling happy during the ride and “better” afterwards and said they felt “a sense of freedom” during the ride.

“Similar to qualitative studies conducted in the United States and the United Kingdom, our results show that a Cycling Without Age program could be an effective non-pharmacological treatment for depression and dementia,” they said.

The research report is available here: Cycling Without Age: An Australian residential aged care home experience – Cyarto – Australasian Journal on Ageing – Wiley Online Library


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