Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Exercise and education keep falls at bay for seniors


Close to 70% of falls in seniors happen at home with most of them caused by health conditions and gradual physical changes in muscle strength and balance due to ageing.

To reduce the incidence of falls and address the risk factors early, Ren Ci Hospital has piloted a fall prevention programme together with the Teck Ghee Zone “A“ Residents‘ Committee (RC). The community engagement initiative aims to educate and physically train seniors who are at a higher risk of having a fall or have had a fall in the recent past.

“Knowing that most seniors have issues of either frequent falls or fear of falls, we hope to strengthen the seniors’ physical condition through our customised programme. The sessions will help them mitigate potential falls, raise their knowledge on falls prevention and empower them to make appropriate decisions in their daily activities to prevent falls,“ said Mr Joe Hau, Chief Executive Officer of Ren Ci Hospital.

Launched on 1 November 2018, the programme has so far benefitted the 11 participants who took part in the 8-week pilot programme, measured by a pre and post-programme assessment.

Twice a week, the participants took part in hourly sessions led by a therapist, spending 15 minutes learning about fall prevention and hazard identification, and 40 minutes actively going through a series of physical exercise.

The topics shared during the educational segment focused on factors that increase risk of falls, home safety, community safety and falls recovery.

The exercise portion of the programme is tailored from other evidence-based and successful exercise regimes like the Otago exercise programme (New Zealand), Stepping On (Australia) and the SAIL programme (USA).

Exercises that improve strength, balance and fitness are the single most important activity that seniors can do to stay active and independent and to reduce the likelihood of having a fall.

The pilot participants were identified through regular house visits by Teck Ghee Zone “A“ RC. They are seniors aged above 65 without any history of falls, or those under 65 with a history of falls. They were supported by a group of community volunteers from the RC who escorted the participants to the programme sessions as well as help out during these sessions.

Illustration 1: Participants learning about hazards during the educational segment of the programme

75-year old Madam Lai Ah Moey liked how the well-curated curriculum gave her a deeper insight into fall prevention and fall recovery techniques. She now knows how to keep her house free of obstacles and shares this knowledge with her friends and community dancing group.

Illustration 2: Learning the physical moves during the exercise segment of the programme

55-year old Mr Toh Moon Tiong who has a fall history and suffered a mild stroke several years ago, noticed that the programme better prepared him with the right recovery methods and exercise to strengthen his muscles.

Ms Zeenat Beevi, the physiotherapist who conducted the programme sessions, is similarly encouraged by the positive post-programme assessment.

"The results indicated that the participants have shown significant improvement in terms of knowledge and techniques."

She is especially inspired by the feedback from one of the programme volunteers whose mother is a participant. The volunteer noticed her mother slowly gaining strength and walking with confidence after the programme.

Given the positive outcome from the pilot programme, the programme will now expand to include caregivers of seniors who are prone to falls. Interested participants may approach their Teck Ghee Zone “A“ RC representatives to sign-up.

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