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Reducing the risk of falls can lead to a significant improvement in quality of life and longevity

Fall Prevention Series Part 1: Belmont Adopts New Program to Prevent Falls

TIRR Memorial Hermann and Belmont Village are helping prevent the leading cause of nonfatal injuries among seniors.

Falls are an all-too common cause of injury among seniors, often leading to hip fractures, head traumas, broken bones and in some cases fatalities. Experts agree that reducing the risk of falls can lead to a significant improvement in quality of life and longevity. Belmont Village has partnered with The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) Memorial Hermann to pilot an exciting new fall-prevention program at our West University and Hunters Creek communities this summer.   TIRR Memorial Hermann, named the second best Rehabilitation Hospital in the Nation by U.S. News & Word Report, will be working with Belmont Village to organize the Otago exercise program— an evidence-based program designed to reduce the occurrence of falls among older adults – and shape it to fit a senior living setting.

“The Otago program has never been implemented into an assisted living setting before so we had to build it into our clinical program,” says Sheri Easton-Garrett, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations. “We used Otago’s person-centered approach to preventing falls and created an in-depth assessment specific to each resident.”

Originating from New Zealand, the program stems from comprehensive studies conducted to identify risk factors and potential interventions to reduce the frequency of falls and their resulting long-term consequences. After teaming with TIRR and Memorial Hermann, we were able to create an extensive and personalized assessment of each resident, taking into account factors like history of falls, medical condition, vision status, mental status and more. After being individually evaluated, assessed and assigned a comprehensive plan to meet their needs, residents are then divided into groups based upon having a low, moderate or high risk of falling.

Our low risk residents and their families receive community exercise program recommendations, along with basic information about fall risks and preventative measures. Residents deemed to have a moderate or high risk of falling are provided with an extensive list of recommendations to address their specific needs and help reduce the probability of a fall.

According to the CDC, there are three main risk factors for older adults that contribute to falling: biological, behavioral and environmental. Otago was specifically designed to prevent falls and combat the biological and behavioral risks. Memorial Hermann Home Care, the in-house therapy services provider at Belmont Village West University and Hunters Creek, has therapy experts on-site who have been trained in the program, which consists of exercises that cover strength training, balance retraining and walking skills, and are available to all Belmont Village residents.

A six-week pilot of the Otago program is currently underway at our West University community and will then be introduced to our Hunters Creek community. Plans are in the works to expand the program to the remaining 23 Belmont Village senior-living communities around the country. We look forward to leading the way in reducing nonfatal injuries among seniors.

In an upcoming blog, we will discuss how to support a loved one should a fall occur and how a fall might change their level of care.