Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Prevent Falls in Your Community with a Strong Balance Training Program

All too often, older adults don’t realize their balance is not what it used to be until after they experience a fall. Unfortunately, falls are dangerous; many of them result in significant injury in the short run. Lasting fear of falling can also negatively impact an individual’s quality of life in the long run. Because falls can be prevented wmoving_seniors-1.jpgith a proactive approach to balance training, we have embarked on a comprehensive fall-prevention model.

While rehabilitation might be a good starting point for residents with severe balance impairments, our fitness center managers take several steps to play an active role in providing balance training long before residents experience a decline in quality of life. 

Transitions with Therapy

A referral service can work two ways. For example, when a resident graduates from therapy services, NIFS fitness staff ensure they are continuing with their balance exercises in the fitness center. This helps residents remain independent while enjoying the lasting effects of their achievements from working with physical therapy. Similarly, when our staff members identify a resident who could benefit from working with therapy, they refer that resident to therapy services on campus to create a seamless transition of care. Read this blog to find out more about how our staff supports a positive fitness center–therapy relationship.

Individual Services in the Fitness Center

Residents with less-significant balance issues benefit from working with our staff to receive an individual exercise program that addresses their unique balance needs. In addition, our staff provides assessments of the residents’ balance abilities, which can be used to more appropriately prescribe exercises and to demonstrate noted improvements over time.

Group Fitness Classes

Most communities offer a group exercise program, but many schedules still lack classes that are dedicated to balance training. While many class formats incorporate balance training, we believe it is essential to offer dedicated balance classes to meet residents’ needs.

Unique Programming

Sometimes individual services in the fitness center get buried among all the activity opportunities at a community, and the group fitness classes as a recurrent series of events don’t always command a fresh look from your residents. That’s why we believe that specialty programming is a significant element in a comprehensive fall-prevention strategy for your senior living community. NIFS Balance Challenge is a great example of such programming.

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The need for effective balance training opportunities for older adults will continue to rise as the large baby boomer population enters retirement. Current residents and prospective residents will appreciate this comprehensive approach in addressing balance issues through therapy services as well as through robust programming options in the fitness center.

Want to find out more about how we provide our clients with well-rounded fall prevention/balance-training programming?

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Topics: physical therapy balance senior fitness senior living community fall prevention group fitness quality of life

The Senior Fitness Center – Physical Therapy Relationship

If you are a fitness professional working with seniors, you’d better have a good relationship with your physical therapy department. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three seniors over age 65 falls each year, with 20 to 30% of those falls resulting in severe injury.

After a severe fall the senior may need rehab, but there are times when they do not want to go. The three reasons I hear most often about why they’re not going to therapy are

  • “I’m not going to therapy because I can’t afford it.”
  • “I’m not going because I don’t have time.”
  • “I’m not going because you can do it.”
I feel we, as fitness professionals, should have a positive relationship with the therapy department, and we should have a basic understanding of physical therapy protocols, such as Medicare limits. Knowing this basic information may help change the mind of a person who is trying to avoid therapy for one reason or another. When fitness staff and therapy work well together, the client/patient always wins, and that’s our ultimate goal.

The next time you hear one of the aforementioned reasons for not going to therapy, here is some information you can provide that they may not have known.

“I’m not going because I can’t afford it.”

Physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy are covered under Original Medicare; the therapy caps for 2015 are $1,940. If this is the option they would like to go with, Medicare part B will pay 80% of the services and require them to pay 20%. Their cap resets after each calendar year, something many seniors don’t realize, so they may be fearful that they will have to pay 100% of the costs when in fact that isn’t true.

If the person has Medicare Advantage plan or any other detailed questions, I would suggest sending them to this section of the Medicare website, or to the therapy department. After all, we are laypersons in the field of Medicare, but our primary goal is to help them, so having this small amount of information along with other resources they can use may be enough to get them on the path to therapy.

“I’m not going because I don’t have time.”

When I hear this, I often follow it with one of my favorite fitness quotes from Edward Stanley:

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”

We make time for the things in our lives that we view as most important. All we can do as fitness professionals is stress how important their body is; it’s their choice to agree and make the time to take care of it.

“I’m not going because you can do it.”

This might be the reason I hear most often. It is definitely flattering to hear the faith they place in your abilities, but we are not therapists and we must not overstep the scope of our training. Some people are really resistant to change, and their comfort level with you may be the reason they ask you to perform their therapy. I have found that if you show faith in therapy, and can suggest a therapist who you know is liked and gets positive results, it goes a long way in getting the person to consider therapy.

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Neither department is more important than the other, but both are necessary for a successful and lasting recovery. The best fitness-therapy relationships are symbiotic, with both sides helping one another and referring clients. For more on strengthening this relationship, get this Quick Read.

Download our quickread for more about how intergrating services can be better for your resident's wellbeing.

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Topics: active aging physical therapy senior fitness injury rehab

3 Tips to Relieve Joint Pain

This blog was written for NIFS by special guest writer Elizabeth Carrollton.

joint painJoint pain is a very common problem, and keeping fit is one of the best ways to find reliable relief. For many of us, limiting activity might seem to make sense when a joint is achy. However, inactivity can make matters worse. In fact, inactivity is a leading cause of joint pain, causing weakness in muscles and bones that can lead to injuries and joint disorders like osteoarthritis.

So if your joints are getting a bit sore and stiff by the end of the day, exercise can help relieve the pain and ward off more serious troubles. Of course, it's important to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of injuries or joint problems before treating them with exercise.

1. How Exercise Helps Joint Pain

Keeping the muscles around injured joints strong is important in maintaining range of motion, joint function, and alignment, factors that can speed healing and recovery after injuries, as well as decreasing pain and stiffness. In joints affected by arthritis, regular exercise can increase joint support by improving the strength and tone of surrounding muscles, which can relieve daily pain and stiffness and slow the progress of this degenerative joint disorder. That's why physical therapy is typically used as part of the treatment plan for most joint injuries and chronic degenerative conditions.

2. Joint-Friendly Exercise

Moderate, weight-bearing exercise is the way to go when your goal is to relieve joint pain. Avoid high-impact exercise that rattles the joints in favor of more joint-friendly options, like walking, swimming, or bike riding. Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are great choices as well, and have been shown in a number of studies to reduce joint pain and discomfort.

If you have been fairly sedentary, start slowly, working up to that optimal goal of at least 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you have severe joint pain or degeneration, physical therapy might be a good idea to ensure that you aren't putting yourself at risk for further joint injury. Besides, working with an expert who is knowledgeable about joint care and function will likely offer more effective relief than exercising on your own.

3. Why Taking Care of Joint Pain Properly Is Essential

Ignoring joint pain can give small issues or injuries a chance to develop into serious, long-term joint problems. Serious joint problems lead to more than 690,000 knee-replacement surgeries every year in the United States and more than 450,000 hip-replacement procedures. Although these surgeries can be a good option for people who have been disabled by joint conditions or injury, they are major surgery and should be considered a treatment of last resort.

Recovery can be a long and challenging process after joint replacement and complications can be an issue, as anyone affected by the recent hip implant recalls can tell you. Faulty metal-on-metal hip implants, used in thousands of procedures, caused metallosis in some patients, which is a complication related to metallic implant debris. Metallosis can cause intense pain and swelling in the hip as metallic particles collect in the soft tissues, and can eventually lead to tissue death, bone loss, and implant loosening or failure, making more surgery necessary.

Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.com.

Topics: corporate fitness exercise arthritis pain relief physical therapy