October 3 through 9 is Active Aging Week. Initiated in 2003 by the International Council on Active Aging, the weeklong campaign brings attention to the positive aspects of aging today. It was created to highlight that older adults can participate fully as active members of our society. The week is designed to challenge any thoughts that adults over 50 can’t live fully in all aspects of society, whether physical, social, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, vocational and environmental. Specifically, Active Aging Week’s goal to promote wellness initiatives and to get bodies up and moving.
We thought Active Aging Week was an ideal week to talk about The Balance Academy initiatives across our Americare Senior Living Facilities. Our signature Balance Academy falls reduction program is designed to improve the lives of residents at our communities by keeping bodies up and active, but with a reduced risk of falls.
Falls are one of the leading causes of hospitalization for seniors, and a recognized detriment to quality of life. With the Balance Academy, Americare has developed a focused program designed to help seniors reduce falls by improving balance and improving confidence among its residents. More than 1,250 residents across the Americare communities have participated in the program, representing more than 50 percent of residents.
The purpose of the Academy is to address the pervasive, yet partially preventable, issue of seniors suffering from fall related injury or death. According to the Centers for Disease control, one in four Americans aged 65 or older falls each year and every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. At this pace, falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including more than 800,000 hospitalizations and 27,000 deaths.
The program, in operation since 2020, was refreshed and enhanced this summer with additional mandatory training for community administrators, directors of nursing and other critical positions.
The Balance Academy program is administered in three phases.
Phase 1 creates a baseline assessment of each participant’s fall risk through three tests that establish a specific profile for that individual.
Phase 2 involves the completion of a series of classes addressing balance, lower body strength and gentle conditioning all designed to help minimize the risk of falling for that individual.
Phase 3 is a 180-day reassessment in which the individual is again given the baseline tests to measure progress and next steps for continued balance improvement or for balance maintenance.
As we improve balance, increase lower body strength and through gentle conditioning, we see a reduction in fall risk. It is important to note that Balance Academy is not a one-time measurement and training, it is ongoing with regular measurement to maintain progress and keep residents encouraged.
By addressing the significant concern of seniors, “the fear of falling,” through the Balance Academy program, Americare is making a measurable difference in the quality and length of life for its residents.
We believe and our experience with our Balance Academy had demonstrated that falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments and exercise, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.
So, during this Active Aging Week we encourage everyone to get up and be active, and we especially wish that for our residents – confident movement with full balance.