Preventing falls is a top concern for seniors. Falls and related injuries can seriously impact senior lives, limiting activities and compromising the ability to live independently. Senior care providers are working hard to ensure their living environments, activity programs, and staff education initiatives help residents stay safe from falls.
Evaluating the Problem
“When we’re young, we don’t usually think about falling,” says Susan McKinney, Vice President of Operations at Lifetime Wellness. “But as we age, our bodies change. Muscle tone declines. The systems that detect gravity and support balance become less effective. Medical issues, such as diabetes, low blood pressure, and impaired eyesight, can make it more difficult to maintain steady balance.’
“The good news is, senior falls can be avoided – or their effects minimized – through personal vigilance, a safe living environment, and a regular exercise program.”
Exercising to Improve Balance and Stability
“Simple exercises can improve balance, strength, and coordination to reduce the risk of falls,” McKinney says. “Balance exercises help maintain strong leg muscles, improve posture, and enhance overall body awareness.”
Lifetime Wellness offers a Quick Reference Exercise Guide that makes it easy for senior care providers to deliver an effective exercise program. The guide covers 12 different exercise groups, including balance and strengthening exercises that help protect against falls. “For example, our Seated or Standing Balance exercise reference cards provide a series of movements to strengthen the core and lower extremities,” McKinney says. “The program works well in a group setting and can also be used one-on-one for individual instruction.”
Educating Seniors, Their Families, and Staff
September is National Falls Prevention Awareness Month, designed to draw attention to the epidemic of falls among seniors – with the underlying message that most falls can be prevented.
Throughout the month, Lifetime Wellness will be sponsoring an educational campaign at partner senior living communities. The theme this year is, “Wellness: The Key to be Fall Free.” Each week in September will focus on a different area of fall prevention, including 1) balance, 2) exercise, 3) nutrition, and 4) a safe environment – all encouraging seniors to learn the facts about falls and educate themselves on how to prevent fall-related injuries.
National Falls Prevention is one of six Lifetime Wellness campaigns conducted throughout the year on various wellness topics. “Staff in senior living communities typically have many balls in the air,” McKinney says. “They may be short on time to organize health education programs. At Lifetime Wellness, our focus is on offering opportunities for wellness-driven programming to help care providers in their education outreach.
“Delivering these campaigns can help seniors improve their health literacy – the ability to understand health information, develop healthy behaviors, and make the best health care decisions.”