Increased Functional Exercise as a Tool in Fall Prevention

One additional highlight during Fall Prevention Month

At the Village of Taunton Mills throughout the month of November, the Program for Active Living (PAL) team, led by kinesiologists Victoria Raimundo in long-term care (LTC) and Jodie Walker in retirement, has been highlighting the importance of fall prevention.

2016 is the 2nd year that November has officially been recognized as Fall Prevention Month in Ontario and PAL team members across Schlegel Villages are capitalizing on the opportunity to broaden the conversation with residents and their loved ones.

At Taunton Mills, Victoria says there has been a different focus on the issue every day of the month. Whether it’s a simple handout, a presentation or organized activities to promote prevention techniques, the key point, she says, is that the discussion is ongoing. For Victoria, who supports residents with more advanced cognitive challenges in LTC, education for family members is critical in helping at-risk residents avoid a potentially devastating fall or at least minimize the injury that may happen if a fall does occur.

“Sometimes the biggest thing to tell people is that falls are going to happen and sometimes the best thing you can do is just prevent the injury,” Victoria says. “There are a million ways to do that and what intervention works for one individual isn’t necessarily going to work for another individual or your loved one.

“Every person is different so you can’t treat every person with the same interventions or the same solutions.”

Victoria says it’s important for people to realize that it isn’t just scheduled physical activities that improve strength, balance and mobility and help prevent falls and mitigates injuries. Increasing simple day-to-day activities can have a big impact for some residents. Yoga and Tai Chi does help, Victoria says, “but it’s actual functional exercise” that can make a big difference. Brushing one’s own hair requires shoulder flexibility, for example, while working on the strength to transfer oneself from bed to wheelchair safely can prevent a fall for someone who is adamant that they want to make that transfer on their own.

And Victoria points out that many of the people she supports want to make those transfers. While it may be safer to physically restrain some people, their life quality is greatly diminished in doing so and therefore, if a person likes to get up and move around then it’s the team’s job to do what they can to support that desire and manage the risks. In many ways, offering opportunities to enhance a person’s ability to manage every day tasks is what Victoria prefers to focus on this month.

“It’s those functional exercises that are happening on a daily basis during care that I think make the biggest difference in falls prevention,” she says.