By Lola Rain
Sensors, pendants, airbags, oh my! New products are popping up right and left. These technologies are designed to help identify, and in some cases, reduce the impact of a fall. Even your Apple Watch has an accelerometer in it which can detect a sudden downward drop.
Because falls are the number one killer of people over 65, and the highest cost to Medicare, more companies are designing products to intervene during, before, and after a fall. Even predictive analytics and AI have jumped on the bandwagon.
A new metric recently discussed at Apple’s 2021 annual conference, “Walking Steadiness,” warns you that you might fall. Apple’s trackable data on your Apple Watch identifies trends, and you can share the health data with your doctor. It will take some time to see how this technology motivates people to get up and moving.
As all ages become more and more dependent on devices, there is a growing risk of falls due to a decrease in mobility (like sitting, playing Xbox, or reading Twitter) — which can cause loss of strength and muscle tone. The good news is fitness continues to work its way into our lives, from TRX, yoga, and Pilates to the Peloton craze. And there are plenty of fitness trainers to go around. But how many instructors really understand the aging body and how it differs from younger counterparts?
Keep Your Body Moving
One company jumps out as knowledgeable and passionate when it comes to fitness — and their program can prevent more than falls. Spiro100 (a Foresight partner) was inspired by Jane Fonda’s keynote at a fitness convention where she received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Not only did Jane Fonda motivate 17 million women in the 1980s to buy her VHS tape, in the 2010s she began promoting a better way to exercise for women over 50.
Around 2015, the founders of Spiro100 took Jane’s words to heart and developed a program just for older adults. With the help of Peggy Buchanan, an experienced senior living program director, Spiro100 created a robust wellness program. Today, their on-demand and live-streaming platform has over 120 exercise and meditation classes led by the nation’s most gifted trainers who specialize in fitness for aging bodies.
Spiro100’s library of content helps:
- Develop stability
- Improve cognitive function & memory
- Reduce pain
- Improve sleep
- Boost immune system
- Relieve stiffness
- And prevent falls by up to 30% within the first 90 days
Spiro100 develops videos for every level of living, from independent to assisted to memory care. There are classes specifically for people living with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia that are designed to help improve physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Specialized Wellness Programs in Senior Living Are Difficult, But Not Impossible
Not many communities are blessed with a wellness director who has a specialty in older adult fitness, let alone exercises for those living with cognitive decline. Most communities depend on their full-time life enrichment director and activities assistants to come up with customized programming for all their residents. And, if your building has 200 residents, that is a lot of custom programs to develop.
Challenged by trying to build something for all, the activities staff does their best to offer variety. What can they do to please everyone? From entertainment to socializing, art to brain fitness, there are endless options, but not endless time or endless budgets. So where should you prioritize?
Fall Prevention Can Stabilize Your Revenue Source
It’s no secret that exercises designed to improve balance, build strength, and increase flexibility can save your residents from a serious fall — a life-threatening fall that is both painful and expensive. More than half of older adults who experience a fall and go to the hospital may never return to their community. They could spend the last months of their lives in skilled nursing trying to recover from a hip fracture to only succumb to pneumonia or sepsis. It is an incredibly sad reality that people (even professionals) ignore.
There is one way around this. Say NO to falling. Make a commitment, just like you did with employee injuries. If you can strive to create a work environment with ZERO work injuries, you can strive to create a home environment with ZERO falls. That commitment starts with having the right program in place.
Tips to Get Your Residents Pumped Up
A common complaint I hear when it comes to fitness classes: “My residents just won’t come.” This can be a cultural problem, or maybe even a FUN problem. If it doesn’t sound fun and doesn’t look fun, why would I want to go to 9 am chair fitness class? Because it’s good for me? No. Because I laugh and smile and enjoy being around my friends. Yes!
We all know that building healthy routines and habits is hard at any age. And we can’t be disappointed when residents don’t participate at first. You’ve seen the one resident watching from the hallway. She is enjoying it from afar. How do you get her pumped up about doing arm stretches and knee lifts?
Add belly dance or improv. Create variety. Do something different and unexpected.
Mark Scher, CEO of Spiro100, recommends extending a formal invitation to every resident, personally. “This might sound crazy or impossible or not worth the time and energy,” says Mark. “The thing is though, a formal invitation hand-delivered works like magic.” Why does this work? Mark explains a personal or formal invitation is much harder to say no to and it requires a response.
Mark also points out what managers might think is obvious, but your staff may feel is rude or noisy: Ask residents why they aren’t attending classes. Mark says, “Find out what, if anything, they are doing to stay in shape instead. Some residents may be too embarrassed to exercise in a group setting. Others may not feel welcome as a new member of the group.” And Mark urges, “Don’t forget to ask what kind of exercises they are interested in. What type of programs or classes would they be excited to attend?”
5 Ways On-demand Fitness Classes Can Help Your Community
Sure, on-demand fitness classes are great for in-room programming. Some of your residents will love the fact they don’t have to get up and dressed in the mornings any longer to make it to balloon tossing. But there are dozens of other reasons why streaming video is perfect for senior living. Here are 5 reasons to get you moving towards on-demand.
- Digital viewing offers huge cost savings compared to adding specialized staff.
- Residents and staff will learn new routines from an all-star team of experts.
- Your residents will have more one-on-one help from staff.
- Some residents won’t come to class if it’s too slow-paced, and others won’t come if it’s too fast. A huge library of videos will give you access to fast, slow, and moderately-paced sessions.
- You never have to cancel a class again because an instructor doesn’t show.
Attract Healthy and Active Residents
ICAA found that people will select a community based on a robust wellness program. When future residents see smiling faces and engaged, joyful people, they feel more secure in their decision to move in. There are many reasons to develop an evidence-based fitness and wellness program, and there are even more reasons why you’d subscribe to an easy-to-use platform that will make your staff happier and more efficient, and your residents healthier. How will you stand up against fall prevention and improve the quality of life for your residents?
10 Basic Moves to Put More Spice into Your Daily Exercise Program
There was a time not so long ago when Wii Fit was the go-to for bowling and tennis tournaments. Now there is a huge demand for more structured fitness classes designed to focus on balance, flexibility, and strength building – all the essential components of fall prevention.
If you need a quick-fix routine for yourself or residents, try these 10 basic moves that promote wellness.
- Mindful meditation for grounding. While seated breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth. Repeat 3x (preferably with eyes closed for total relaxation).
- Reach both hands high overhead and stretch. Release and Repeat 3x.
- Catch invisible fly balls overhead like you are playing baseball. Laugh when you miss the invisible ball.
- While seated, lift those knees one at a time. How many can you do in 30 seconds?
- Use the arms of your chair for 10 chair pushups. This helps strengthen the arms and upper body.
- Sit to stand: These are great to practice especially if the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test is common in your community. What’s a Timed Up and Go test? Read about it below. How many times can you go from seated to standing in 30 seconds?
- Walk in circles around your chair. First, go to your right 5 times, then switch directions and walk to your left 5 times.
- Belly dance by moving your middle. It’s a fun way to build your core. Circle your hips, right 5x then left 5x.
- Take the body-mind challenge! Lift right arm and left leg each out to the opposite side. Then switch. Lift left arm and right leg out to each side.
- Play the rhythm on a drum and feel the beat. You don’t need a real drum for this. Pat your legs or chair or table. Or play air-drums (like air-guitar). You can imagine the beat in your head, or play to a favorite song.
Don’t forget to laugh and work those face muscles too!