Empowering Older Adults with the Tools to Prevent Falls
At this time of year, we begin to celebrate the coming of fall, with the crispness in the air and the beauty of the leaves changing colors. But for many of us as we age, the word “fall” takes on a much scarier meaning. At several Brio Living Services communities this week, our team members from the National Institute for Fitness & Sport, or NIFS, celebrated Falls Prevention Awareness Week with an Empowerment Workshop for residents. NIFS is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to help people stay healthy throughout their lifespan.
Tylene Costello, Director of Lifestyle and Health at Chelsea Retirement Community (CRC) explains, “The Empowerment Workshops are designed to empower residents with the knowledge and skills they need to avoid falls and how to get up from a fall. We want them to know how to prevent a fall from happening, and help them overcome their fear of falling, and to feel stronger and better equipped if they do fall.”
At CRC’s Empowerment Workshop, Tylene presented to a full house of independent living residents, along with Whytlie Beasley, OT, Team Lead for Home Health Care East; and Benji Rustia, Physical Therapist at CRC. The objectives of the workshop are to promote self assessment of one’s own health, develop skills to improve balance and strength, address fear of falling, conduct home safety checks, and promote resources that are available at our Brio communities. Following the workshop, residents had the opportunity to sign a “Fall Free Pledge” to do a safety check in their own homes and to take a balance class offered by the NIFS instructors. Residents also had the opportunity to volunteer to demonstrate getting up from a fall.
“They will see, if someone their age can do it, they can, too,” says Tyler Forbes, Fitness Manager at Porter Hills Village who has a background in physical therapy. “It really helps build their confidence.”
If residents do fall, “we want them to take a breath and assess themselves– ‘am I ok, or do I need help,’” says Tylene.
This workshop is a program that NIFS has been running across the country for years, according to Emily Davenport, Director of Fitness Management at NIFS. She says, it doesn’t have to be a moment of panic when we fall. “We want older adults to take a moment to sit and breathe. Through the Empowerment Workshop, we want residents to practice and recognize what they need to do so it doesn’t have to be so panic filled. It’s so rewarding to hear someone say, ‘Your voice was in my head when I fell, and I remembered what to do in that moment.’”
Tyler, whose grandmother is a resident at Porter Hills Village, says most falls happen when you least expect them. “You think your path is correct, but just going to grab something or moving too quickly can cause a fall,” says Tyler. “Relax and don’t worry if the phone is ringing. Everyone should just slow down, take a deep breath, and assess your surroundings.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of four older Americans fall each year, and a single fall doubles the chance of falling again. Many things can affect our risk for falls, such as certain medications, loss of vision or hearing, or weak joints. Benji says, “Thirty-six million older adults fall each year, three million will require an ER visit, and one in five falls results in a broken bone.”
That’s why Tylene, Tyler, and Kristy Hopp, Fitness Specialist at Cook Valley Estates, host the Empowerment Workshops. “There is a dynamic and broad range of activity and levels of ability among our residents,” says Tylene. “We evaluate all residents by doing a fall risk assessment when they first move to the community, and we provide testing and recommend classes to fit their needs. These include balance classes, aquatic strength classes, seated dance classes, and yoga. We also offer sequential activities like line dancing that can help the brain, as well as walking groups and outdoor activities. Wheelchair bound residents can also participate in the Ageless Strength class. Our program accommodates all fitness levels and physical capabilities.”
Tyler has been in the fitness industry for 15 years, but his position at Porter Hills Village is the first time he has worked with older adults. “I love it,” says Tyler. “No other generation has been more appreciative and accepting of everything I do or say. It’s so much more meaningful. Their appreciation of what I’m doing is food and fuel for me.”
The adage, if you don’t use it, you lose it, is true, says Tyler. “But you’re never too old to exercise. It’s important to stay consistent.”
Visit our website to learn more about Brio Living Services and its commitment to resident wellness.