A Kinesiologist’s Perspective on Falls Prevention

Schlegel Villages is proud to provide its residents with access to the expertise of Kinesiologists and Exercise Therapists in each village. These specialists are passionate about the physical health and well being of the people they serve, and they can be found every day in the fitness centres along Main Street, helping residents achieve their goals and increase their strength, balance and overall mobility.

During the month of November, which is Falls Prevention Month, these specialists have focused much of their energy on raising awareness of the importance of falls prevention.

Kinesiologists across Schlegel Villages, like Christine Hames,
work hard with residents to improve strength and prevent falls.  

Christine Hames has been with the Schlegel Villages since graduating from the University of Guelph in 2011. She started with Riverside Glen before moving to The Village at University Gates when it opened in Waterloo in 2015. She says working with residents every day to help them achieve and surpass their goals is one of the greatest privileges she’s ever known.

“I just love helping the residents to be active and to have fun while doing so,” Christine says. She recently took a bit of time out of her busy schedule to share her thoughts on Falls Prevention.

Q: As a registered Kinesiologist who works closely with older adults, what are a few of the most important things you like to remind people of when it comes to falls prevention?

A: Be aware of your environment and the obstacles that can contribute to falls and trips. Footwear is so important; make sure it is supportive, has a good sole and is comfortable. Use caution when walking on uneven surfaces. Make sure to pick up your feet, shuffling steps might feel more safe but it increases your risk of tripping and it causes muscle imbalances that can affect your balance. Everyone can benefit from strengthening and balance exercises!!

Q: What are some of the medical conditions that increase a person's risk of a fall and what tips might you offer people living with these conditions to help reduce the risks?

 A: Many medications can cause side effects that can increase a person’s risk of falls – medications that control blood pressure, diuretics, and psychotropic medication are just a few. When you take a medication for a specific health condition, sometimes navigating the side effects is part of the process.  Some other health conditions that affect mobility include Parkinson's and the aftereffects of a stroke.

Q: The residents you serve are fortunate to have a team to support them as they work to improve their strength, balance and mobility. What advice might you offer a home-based caregiver or an older adult living at home independently?

A: Join community exercise classes that are offered at local seniors' centres or through the LHIN.  This not only helps with your physical well being but also social engagement.  Check out the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for older adults or Osteoporosis Canada for recommended exercises that you can do at home. When you are doing a sedentary activity, like watching T.V., it is important to remember to get up and move around.  If you are able, hire a private Kinesiologist or exercise professional to help you develop an individualized exercise program.

Q: What would you say is one of the more common reasons older adults suffer a fall and what tips might you offer to help prevent a fall from happening?

A: There are a lot of reasons that can cause a person to fall: this can include your health condition, medications and environment.  One of the most important ways to prevent falls is to stay physically active and practice strength and balance exercises daily, as well as eat a nutritious diet.