Joyce Glick, PT, MHS, says seniors who master 17 simple Otago exercises and perform them at home significantly reduce their risk of dangerous falls.
Fatal falls for senior citizens are on the rise in the U.S. while millions of other serious falls prompt visits to hospitals, rehabilitation and nursing homes.
To help prevent falls among seniors, Bacharach has introduced the Otago Exercise and Fall Prevention Program that uses balance and strengthening exercises as well as a walking program.
“In health care we typically see patients after they have experienced a fall. Through the Otago program, we are on the front lines of fall prevention,” said Joyce Glick, Vice President Ambulatory Services. “A fall is one of the most debilitating things that can happen to a senior and it usually precipitates a decline in health. The program we have implemented has been evaluated and proven to reduce the risk of falls in seniors by up to 35 percent. If we can prevent the falls, then we can keep seniors healthy for longer.”
Adopted by the CDC
The program, originally started in New Zealand, was adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) due to its success in fall prevention. The year-long program starts with an evaluation to assess the patient’s current weaknesses in order to start them out with exercises that are right for them.
A physical therapist, certified in the program, walks the patient through a set of 17 different exercises until they are comfortable enough to perform them at home. Once the patient has mastered the exercises, they start a walking program.
“Our therapists use objective measurements to monitor the patient’s strength and balance improvements,” said Joyce. “The gradual progression of the program helps seniors build up confidence in their walking ability. The best way to improve standing and walking is to actually practice walking.”
There are many options available for patients who would like to start the program. Patients can begin their sessions at Bacharach’s main campus, one of its satellite locations or even from the comfort of their own home if leaving their home is difficult or unsafe.
“Patients who have begun the program are already reporting a higher quality of life because they feel more stable and are no longer afraid of falling,” said Joyce. “They feel more comfortable leaving their homes and are able to be more social.”
Bacharach’s Otago Exercise and Fall Prevention Program is open to people who have fallen, have weakness or balance problems or are at risk for falling. For more information on the program or to find a location near you, call 609-652-7000.