A fall can be devastating to an older adult. Injuries can exacerbate the progression of dementia and rob a person of mobility and independence.
Modern fall prevention programs involve more than just getting good shoes and keeping walking surfaces flat and clutter-free. Promoting regular exercise focused on increasing strength, flexibility and balance goes a long way in helping an older adult avoid a fall. That’s why our Lewinsville Adult Day Health Care participants welcomed physical therapy doctoral candidates and nursing students from Marymount University to introduce participants to Otago, a falls prevention program that encourages older adults to get on their feet. The Marymount University team selected Adult Day Health Care to pilot the program’s viability with older adults who have cognitive impairments.
Otago has been widely used among the older adult population, but experiences with those who have dementia or another cognitive issue have been limited, said Julie Ries, Ph.D., professor of physical therapy from Marymount who brought the program to Lewinsville.
Here, we were able to determine how the program would benefit this subset of the older adult population.
The results were positive for the participants.
One of our participants had quite the grip on her walker when she started the program, Dr. Ries said.
Now, she can move around with greater independence. She still needs assistance, but she is markedly more confident in her own abilities. Otago emphasizes standing and walking exercise in addition to seated work. This combination makes a marked difference in balance, strength and, ultimately, the confidence of the participant.
Can you do 20 "sit" exercises? Because Ernesto can, under the watchful eye of physical therapy doctoral candidate Nicole.
Sitting is not always easy for our participants, said Jane Lewis, center nurse coordinator, Lewinsville Adult Day Health Care.
It is difficult for many to understand the space around them. Sitting exercises may seem simple — but they go a long way in fall prevention.
The Otago experience wrapped but the Lewinsville Adult Day Health Care team will apply learnings to their own fall prevention program.
We’ve said it time and time again: people can thrive despite their dementia diagnosis. The Otago program underscored this even more. Cognition issues need not get in the way of a person’s ability to exercise, to strengthen their muscles and to live a great life, Jane said.
Would being part of a daily falls prevention program benefit your loved one? Contact us to come in for lunch and a tour of one of our four centers. Our nursing staff can help assess your loved one and make some recommendations for fall prevention techniques.