Getting Hip to Fall Prevention

Falling is a major cause of injury among Canadian seniors. Statistics show that 85% of all senior injury-related hospitalizations are caused by falls, with falls being the cause of 95% of all hip fractures. So what can be done?

“Staying active and educated are two incredibly important ways to keep from becoming part of those statistics,” said Heather Wiebe, kinesiologist at United’s Garrison Green.

Garrison Green resident Nigel Way working with kinesiologist Heather Wiebe
Garrison Green resident Nigel Way working with kinesiologist Heather Wiebe.

As part of Fall Prevention Month in November, United’s full-time kinesiologists, Heather at Garrison Green and Cynthia Chiu and Amanda Rande at Fish Creek, have created a wide range of activities including risk assessments, exercises, games and education for residents to increase their overall health by improving balance, strength and proprioceptive awareness (the body’s ability to sense its location, movements and actions).

“We have chosen two valid and reliable tests to provide residents with insight into their fall risk as part of the Fall Prevention Month activities,” said Cynthia. “The Berg Balance and TUG tests give us information to help our residents understand their fall risk and what they can do to improve their balance.” The Berg balance scale is used to determine a person’s ability to balance during a series of 14 tasks. The Timed Up and Go test, known simply as the TUG test, is used to assess a person’s mobility to get out of a chair, walk a short distance, then return to the chair.

“Being educated about fall prevention is very important as we age,” said Cynthia. “Balance can affect an individual’s risk of falling, so completing assessments, staying active and being educated are all important components.”

Fish Creek resident Hugh Balkwill practices his balance
Fish Creek resident Hugh Balkwill practices his balance.

Fish Creek resident Hugh Balkwill has Parkinson’s so is very aware of balance. “Cynthia assessed my ability to balance and I do exercises to help me improve my sense of balance. Because of my work with her and Amanda, I’m more aware now of my concerns with balance so I use a walker or walking poles to improve my stability. Just being aware of your limitations is an important first step in improving balance.”

“One of the interactive, social and team programs is based on well-known TV programs such as Jeopardy and Family Feud where residents are challenged to find the right answers, and/or participate in the physical challenge, which also improves their knowledge and skills around fall prevention,” said Heather. “Another program is a floor-to-standing workshop where we teach residents how to return to standing should they take a fall. It’s an area that doesn’t get much attention, however we think is very important to a plan if a fall happens.”

Garrison Green resident Allan Holbrook practices his balance with the parallel bars
Garrison Green resident Allan Holbrook practices his balance with the parallel bars.

Garrison Green resident Allan Holbrook is involved in the fall prevention programming. “It can be quite debilitating when a person falls. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the odd fall but haven’t broken anything. But I now work with Heather on exercises to keep my balance and strength up.”

While fall prevention and balance gets a special focus in November, they are foundations of all of United’s fitness programs. “This month we amplify our educational strategies around fall prevention for the residents to participate in. There are different levels of mobility in our community so we offer a variety of programs to address this, ranging from physical challenges and assessments to educational and game-style learning so all residents can be involved. They know how important preventing a fall is so they are eager to engage in the activities and discussion,” said Heather.

Photos by United Active Living. Videos by Sherana Productions.

Don’t hesitate to talk with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange for a tour at your convenience. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help! 

To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.

Or, to find out more about life at United’s Garrison Green, watch this short video.