Screening reduces seniors' fall risk

Fall prevention screening at Fort Collins

A simple screening event at Good Samaritan Society – Fort Collins Village in Fort Collins, Colorado, helps independent and assisted living residents lower their risk of falling.

Each assessment done at an event involves a resident sitting, standing up, walking to and around a cone 10 feet away and back.

“How long it takes them helps us determine their risk,” says Reuben Jackson, supervisor of therapy and rehabilitation at Fort Collins Village.

Depending on a resident’s fall risk, a recommendation may be made for a community group exercise class if they are at low risk or follow-up therapy if they are at moderate or high risk. These screening events help residents stay independent for as long as possible.

“I talk to them about taking their time,” Reuben says. “If someone is frequently using the bathroom, they are likely rushing to get there. Because of this, they may stop drinking as much water and then be at risk for dehydration which can cause weakness and put them at risk for falling.”

Fortunately, Reuben and the rehabilitation therapy team can help residents who deal with incontinence or issues with frequent urination.

“The bladder is surrounded with muscles, and when those aren’t strong, you have frequent incontinence issues,” says Reuben. “But there are exercises that can help the pelvic floor.”

Residents can practice exercises that help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Reuben also works with residents on their static, dynamic and reactive balance and teaches them how to fall safely.

“Balance is something you always have to work on,” says Reuben. “People who are very fit and strong may still have poor balance.”

To increase balance, Reuben suggests that when residents are doing chores, like the dishes or laundry or even looking in the fridge, they try to stand on one leg. They can also alternate standing with a normal stance and then a narrow stance.

“I’m glad the Society and Sanford are doing things about balance because falls are one of the number one causes of injury,” says Reuben.

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