University Students play a big role in raising awareness at Humber Heights
By Kristian Partington
When she was in Grade 10, Margaret Lasota took a summer job at a retirement home in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood of Toronto’s west end and she felt instantly at home working with the older adults who lived there. Now as a University of Waterloo kinesiology student she once again finds herself working with seniors as she completes her work placement at The Village of Humber Heights in Etobicoke.
She’s drawn to the creativity required of kinesiologists in a setting where people’s needs and goals are as varied as their abilities, and both the team members and residents have been a constant source of new knowledge for the 3rd year student.
“I’m actually really enjoying it,” she says. “I love it; I’m learning a lot and the people are great.”
One of the areas of focus for the team of kinesiologists, exercise therapists and students through the month of November is fall prevention, in honour of Ontario’s 2nd observance of Fall Prevention Month. An average of 63 older adults are hospitalized every day in Ontario costing the health care system approximately $1 billion – pretty hefty statistics. But beyond the grand consideration of the ramifications of falls, Margaret understands completely that the individual costs in terms of life quality can be devastating for each person who suffers a fall. That’s why fall prevention is so important.
Among many separate days spent sharing information this month, the team organized Fall Prevention Awareness Day on Nov. 14. Under the guidance of village kinesiologists Dagmara Klitsz and Melanie Kerr-Stewart, the students presented several information booths for team members, residents and families to browse throughout the day.
“It’s really important because falls happen every day and they can happen to anyone,” Margaret says. “You can have different consequences from falls so it’s really important to educate both the family members and the residents on how to go about your daily living without worrying about a fall.”
Margaret has always been a passionate advocate for an active lifestyle and her curiosity about movement and the human body grew from her love of ballroom dancing. She uses that passion to encourage everyone to consider the role of exercise in fall prevention. She led a Zumba exercise class during fall prevention day and used it as an opportunity to discuss how exercise prevents falls by enhancing strength and balance. Team members from other areas of the village also offered their ideas about successful interventions in fall prevention, which widened perspectives on the subject.
Interventions can be simple, Margaret points out: keeping clutter out of floor space, for example, or purchasing proper footwear. The effort may be minimal, but the impact is immeasurable if a loved one can prevent a terrible fall.