First there was Jane Fonda, big, then Richard Simmons, bigger, then Denise Austin still bigger. Now it is LIFE ElderCare’s exercise program Get Up and Go that has people talking about it and seeing results. What is unique about the program is that it is for frail, homebound seniors, 60 and over in the Fremont, Newark and Union City area.
Each year one in three Americans aged 65 and older falls and thirty percent of such falls cause injuries requiring medical treatment. Falls are harmful, falls are painful, but they can be prevented.” There are over 9,000 home-bound seniors in the Tri-City area that would benefit from our program,” Maureen Parent, Fall Prevention Coordinator sighs.” We are searching for them.”
So far the search has yielded good results. LIFE ElderCare’s Falls Prevention Program was started in 2004 and to date 653 have enrolled in the 12 week exercise program. Progress is measured using industry standard post assessment. One client who was totally bedridden for 2 1/2 years is now walking with a walker. Another who was unable to comb her hair is now able to do so due to upper body strengthening. “Success comes in so many ways.” Parent explained. “For some it's the strength to stop a fall. Others are now able to walk with a friend. To one woman, the ability to lift her little dog brought some joy into her days.” Many of the clients are equally enthusiastic. A daughter of one of the clients was so surprised her father was up and walking again she called to enroll her mother in law!
Fall Prevention’s Get Up and Go Program links nursing students from Unitek College and seniors for weekly in-home exercises to build strength and stamina while reducing the risks of falls. Using stretching and flex bands the exercises aim to increase energy, stamina and flexibility.
Jaswinder Singh a LVN, who is training to be a RN, has been with the program several years. “We are hope for the seniors, their voice. Because they are isolated we give them socializing, a friend and something to look forward to ‘Singh says. “They recognize us with a smile when we arrive.”
In home safety assessment and recommendations are conducted. Sometimes minor home modifications such as grab bars, and hand held showers are recommended. Medication management is also available to help avoid possible drug interaction, (which is a leading cause of falls for seniors.) “Ability and mobility are things we look for when working with a client “Singh says.
The program is offered at no cost to frail home-bound seniors age 60 and older in the Tri City area of Fremont, Newark and Union City. “We also work with non-English speaking seniors and those who are physically impaired.” Parent added.