Our Fall Prevention program helps Beatrice, 95, maintain her independence.

For women in their 90’s who want to remain independent and live in their own home, finding the right combination of resources to keep them healthy and mobile can be an ongoing challenge. The biggest concern for many of them is simply getting around the house without falling and staying strong enough to bathe, dress, and cook meals. Having social support and companionship is also very important as advanced age often brings on feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Beatrice, at 95, is lucky to have family in the area who check in on her every day and take her out for trips to the grocery store and Macy’s. She likes shopping and gets a thrill out of choosing just the right gift for one of her children. During the past few years her mobility and strength have been declining but she still gets around her house with a walker and is able to dress herself and warm up meals cooked by her son. She attributes some of her success at remaining independent to LIFE ElderCare’s Fall Prevention program.

Four years ago, Beatrice and her son read about the program and thought it would be a good way for her to get personalized exercise assistance that was pre-approved by her doctor. They also liked the idea of nursing students coming to the home every week to monitor her progress, maintain her motivation and answer questions. Beatrice says about her experience, “Oh yes, I like the program and want to continue with it.” She says the program has helped her stability and she enjoys visiting with the nurses. It is the first exercise program she has ever participated in.

While she is no longer able to shower or bathe on her own, she still takes short walks with her children and accompanies her son to the grocery store every week for shopping. “We are so happy when the program helps older adults stay in the homes they love for as long as safely possible,” says Maureen Parent, Fall Prevention Coordinator, “sometimes for people in their 90’s, just ‘holding the line’ is an amazing achievement.”

The Fall Prevention program is open to anyone age 60 and older who lives in Fremont, Newark and Union City. The supervised exercise program lasts 12 weeks and includes a medication review and home safety check. For more information or to sign up, call Sandy at 510-574-2087.

Got Balance?

Do you know how to test yourself to see if you have good balance? A lot of seniors believe they have good balance because they’re still getting around. But if you would like to know if your balance is as good as you believe, here is a simple test you can do.

First, stand with both hands on top of a table or counter, and place both feet firmly on the floor. Now, with both hands still on the counter for safety, gradually lift one foot. So far, so good? Okay, now lift both hands. You should be standing on only one foot without assistance. Could you stay that way for 10 seconds? If yes, your balance is rather good. However if you are like a lot of seniors, you felt unsteady and unsure. Perhaps you wouldn’t even take your hands off of the counter. You’re in good company. Most seniors feel that way. So, what if you do need to improve your balance – is there anything that can help?

Yes! If you are a senior living in the Tri-City area of Fremont, Newark and Union City, call Sandy at LIFE ElderCare 574-2087 to enroll in the free Fall Prevention program. The program provides trained nursing students who will come to your home and instruct you on personalized exercises that will be approved by your doctor which will put the balance back in your life. Improving your balance reduces your risk of falling. A lot of seniors have improved their balance by joining the program and you can too. Call today!

P.S. LIFE ElderCare’s 12-week, in-home exercise program is offered at no cost to home-bound seniors age 60 and older. In addition, you’ll receive a free home safety assessment, minor home modifications and a comprehensive medication review. These combined measures may help decrease your possibility of a bad fall. If you are concerned about falling, doing fall prevention exercises can make all the difference!

–Sandy Hallgren

This article originally appeared in the March 9, 2012 edition of the Tri-City Voice.

Elderly participants and registered nursing students benefit from the Sustainability Module in LIFE ElderCare’s Fall Prevention program.

Sustainability is a critical component of LIFE ElderCare’s Fall Prevention program. Anyone who has begun an exercise program or health improvement regime understands the challenges of maintaining their commitment to it. Now, imagine doing this in your late 80’s while also struggling with multiple chronic and debilitating health problems. The most effective fall prevention program would incorporate ways to maintain contact with their clients, and continue to review their fall risk, years after the initial training. LIFE ElderCare is able to offer this through a partnership with Unitek College’s LVN to RN program.

From the perspective of the registered nursing student, helping seniors maintain their strength and mobility is a challenge that calls upon their experience as a Licensed Vocational Nurse and the new skills and knowledge gained during their RN education. After completing a thorough assessment of the senior’s physical, environmental and psychosocial needs, the RN student gets valuable hands-on training in geriatric home care by helping the senior maintain their initial success.

After the students finish their training, LIFE ElderCare conducts a post-program interview. Here is what one student had to say about his experience.
[Read more…]

More physicians need to ask their patients about falls.

A recent survey by the Hartford Foundation has revealed that only 19% of older adult patients have had their MD talk with them about fall prevention.  This is alarming given the fact that falling is the cause of 90% of all hip fractures and is the leading cause of injury and injury-related deaths in older adults.

We recently interviewed Dr. Dianne Martin, a Fremont, CA-based physician, about what she looks for in assessing whether or not someone is a fall risk.  “The patients most likely to take a fall are ones that have balance and mobility problems, decreased muscle strength and are taking medications that affect balance.”  She has found that patients who have even minor falls become less confident and lose their feeling of security when walking.

When a patient tells her about having a fall she recommends the Fall Prevention program at LIFE ElderCare.  “Having someone who comes to their home really motivates them and gets them excited to participate,” she says.

Dr. Martin would like to see more physicians ask their patients whether or not they have had a recent fall because if the fall is minor, many patients forget to bring it up.  If the patients says yes, it gives the physician a great opening to talk about the importance of fall prevention programs.  “More and more older adults want to age independently in their own homes,” says Martin. “Whatever we can do to make this a reality is certainly a plus.”

Learn more about LIFE ElderCare’s Fall Prevention program.

View our Fall Prevention Coordinator’s presentation at the 2012 California Wellness Foundation’s Conference on Healthy Aging.

The Lifetime Risk for Osteoporotic Fracture is 50% for Women Over Fifty

At the March 4, Osteoporosis Update at Washington Hospital, I learned a few important things about how to protect my bones.  The first presenter, Dr. Barry Shibuya, clarified the difference for me between osteoporosis and joint pain.   Osteoporosis is painless, (unless you have a fracture), while osteoarthritis hurts.  Also, osteoporosis medication does not relieve joint pain; it only helps protect the body against future bone loss.

Dr. Shibuya alerted the audience to the harmful effect of steroid medication such as Prednisone on bone loss, saying, “If you take 5 mg of Prednisone for three months or longer, you will lose 25% of your bone density within one year.”  To protect against osteoporosis he recommended exercise to build bones (bones are like muscles, they become stronger through resistive exercises), increasing your intake of calcium and Vitamin D, ending bad habits such as smoking and enrolling in a Fall Prevention program.

Maureen Parent, Coordinator of LIFE ElderCare’s Fall Prevention program, spoke after Dr. Shibuya and reiterated the importance of exercise in preventing falls.  She pointed out that falls are the number one reason why seniors lose their independence.  After a fall, the fear of falling again restricts a person’s willingness to engage in normal activities.  And, the more sedentary and homebound they become, the more likely they are to fall again.  People who have completed the 12-week, in-home, Fall Prevention class have reported a significant decrease (up to 70%) in their fear of falling again.

The major risk factors for falls are balance impairments, weak muscles, impaired vision, medications, and home environmental hazards such as inadequate lighting, clutter, throw rugs, as well as the incorrect use of assisted devices such as canes and walkers.  The Fall Prevention program at LIFE ElderCare addresses all of the risk factors through a personalized exercise program, assistance with medication management and assistance with reducing hazards in the home.  Enrollment is continuous so if you are age 60 and older, and are predominately homebound, this is a great way to keep you free from falls.

Rachael Vander Martin, Communications Specialist

See links for more information:

LIFE ElderCare Fall Prevention
Assess your Future Fracture Risk
Dr. Barry Shibuya

Seniors who could benefit from Fall Prevention programs often fall between two worlds.

Fall Prevention programs abound for fit seniors who are able to get to community centers and other group venues where the routines are designed to help those who are healthy, mobile and have a relatively low risk of falling.  But what happens to seniors who don’t meet these minimum requirements; the forgotten seniors who are out of sight from others in their community, who live alone and who are often isolated?  Living independently, with multiple ailments, they are at great risk for a fall.  Perhaps they are recovering from a recent surgery and have exhausted their Medicare benefits for physical therapy. Or, they may have completed the recommended course of action after a fall — hospitalization, release to a skilled nursing facility and perhaps a few in-home physical therapy sessions, but their risk of falling again is still high.

These seniors fall between two worlds. Where services abound for others, they may find themselves too strong for medical care in a skilled nursing facility, yet too frail for a congregate workout.  How do they address the multiple factors that can potentially cause a fall?  Who will inspire, coach and motivate them to build muscle strength to improve their balance and gait, and ultimately reduce their risk of falling?

LIFE ElderCare’s Fall Prevention program addresses each of the leading predictors of a fall:

  • Balance and gait are improved through a personalized exercise routine that is approved by the client’s primary care physician and monitored over a twelve week period, in the participant’s home.
  • Home hazard assessments are completed and minor modifications are provided.
  • Medication management.  An in-depth assessment by a Touro University licensed pharmacist is included with medication cards provided to the client and their primary care physician.

Post assessment data of seniors who complete a 12-week session show an average improvement of 50% on the following factors: balance, strength, flexibility, energy, stamina, mobility and ability to prevent a fall.  A stunning 71% of participants report an improvement in their mood.

Think for a moment about the older adults you know.  Is there someone who could benefit by participating in a Fall Prevention program?  Please help us spread the word.  Additional information is available on our website, by mail, or simply give us a call at 510-574-2088.  Enrollment is continuous so anytime is the perfect time to get started.

Maureen Parent
Fall Prevention Coordinator

Spread the word, falling is not inevitable.

The Fall Prevention program at LIFE ElderCare is starting a new 12-week session in mid-November.  Past participants have reported the following improvements in activities of daily living.

  • Balance 52%
  • Strength 64%
  • Flexibility 54%
  • Energy 60%
  • Stamina 54%
  • Mobility 56%
  • Mood 71%
  • Ability to prevent a fall 63%

What is included in the program, and how it works:

– Personalized in-home exercises.

– Home safety check, minor home modifications (such as grab bars, hand held shower assists, commode rails).

– Medication review for possible drug interactions (which are a significant risk factor in falls).

After you enroll, a Certified Fitness Trainer will come to your home to assess your level of mobility and create a personalized exercise routine that you will be expected to practice over a 10-12 week period. During this time an LVN nursing student from Unitek College will come by every week to answer questions, provide additional instruction and assess your progress.

If you know someone who is age 60 or older and who lives in Fremont, Newark or Union City, call Sandy at 510-574-2087 or send her an email and we’ll get you started.  The program is offered at no charge to Tri-City residents.

Watch video testimonials from two of our participants:
Enis, age 93 and Steve, age 93.

LIFE ElderCare has been providing the basics of life to frail, homebound seniors for the past 35 years.

Walkers and canes can cause falls if they are not fitted and used properly.

Older people sometimes borrow walking aids from friends and family without realizing the danger this can pose.  Using borrowed canes, walkers, and crutches, without adjusting the fit and height appropriately, can cause discomfort and result in injury.

Here are some general tips for those using a cane or walker as a walking aid:

  • The walker or cane should be about the height of your wrists when your arms are at your sides.
  • When using a walker, your arms should be slightly bent when holding on, but you shouldn’t have to bend forward at the waist to reach it.
  • Periodically check the rubber tips at the bottom of the cane or walker. Be sure to replace them if they are uneven or worn through.
  • If you decide to use a walker or cane, or if your doctor suggests that you use one, ask for a referral to a Physical Therapist.
  • Avoid hurrying or walking too fast.
  • Make sure you pick up your feet when you’re walking – avoid shuffling – walk heel-toe.

Irvington High School seniors “strike out falls” for LIFE ElderCare’s Fall Prevention program

Jessica Hsi, Maureen Parent, Annie Lou

Back in December 2009, Jessica Hsi and Annie Lou, students at Irvington High School, started working on identifying topics for their QUEST project.   QUEST is a five-component project that is designed and completed by all Irvington seniors.  It starts with formulating a question and ends with the student organizing an activity in which their knowledge is shared with the community. Jessica and Annie identified senior citizens as the group they most wanted to help because they wanted to “give back to those who gave to them first.”

After researching senior centers and organizations in the area they chose LIFE ElderCare’s Fall Prevention program.  “We chose the Fall Prevention program because we ourselves are healthy and we want others to stay healthy as well,” said Jessica.  The next step was to meet with Maureen Parent, Coordinator of the program.  During the meeting Maureen identified three goals she thought the students could help her with, 1) enlist financial support, 2) build awareness of the program, and 3) participate in direct community outreach.

Because Jessica and Annie wanted their project to engage young people in helping older people through their own physical fitness, they decided to organize and promote a Bowl-A-Thon.  The event was publicized through flyers and door-to-door outreach.  People who were interested in the project were asked if they wanted to make a financial contribution to the Fall Prevention program.

The event took place on February 27, 2010 at Cloverleaf Bowl in Fremont with 12 young bowlers participating.  When any of the bowlers hit a strike the entire group would yell, “strike out falls.”  In addition to building awareness in the community, the event brought in a $395 donation.

We extend our thanks to Jessica and Annie and encourage other students in the Tri-City area to consider LIFE ElderCare for future charitable projects.

You’ve heard it before, “exercise is the fountain of youth.”

“Physical activity has long been known to bestow such benefits as helping to maintain a healthy weight and reduce stress, not to mention tightening those abs. Now, a growing body of research is showing that regular exercise—as simple as a brisk 30- to 45-minute walk five times a week—can boost the body’s immune system, increasing the circulation of natural killer cells that fight off viruses and bacteria. And exercise has been shown to improve the body’s response to the influenza vaccine, making it more effective at keeping the virus at bay.  Regular workouts may help fight off colds and flu, reduce the risk of certain cancers and chronic diseases and slow the process of aging.”

Read the full Wall Street Journal article, “The Hidden Benefits of Exercise.”

If you are frail and homebound, or know someone who is, we can help. LIFE ElderCare’s Falls Prevention program provides in-home weekly coaching sessions with a Unitek College LVN nursing student. Our certified fitness trainer will design a routine focused on balance and gait, the two most important factors in helping to prevent a fall.

Still not sure? The program is free. Kaiser Permanente and other prominent foundations have provided grant funding so that you can remain healthy and independent for as long as safely possible.

Come on. Pick up the phone and give us a call at 510-574-2088.  We are happy to answer any questions you may have.