Exercise program helps prevent falls, loss of independence

WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington County Safe Communities Falls Prevention Action Group (PAG) is working to raise awareness on steps people can take to reduce their risk of a fall.

When watching television avoiding a fall seems easy with the advice of “just don’t fall.”

Regardless of how educated you are about fall prevention, how good your balance is or how strong your muscles are you can still experience a fall.

When a senior, who is in good physical condition falls, the impact of that fall is often reduced and they are able to remain independent.

Falls are the number one cause of injuries to seniors.

The fear of falling is real, it can make seniors less confident and result in a reduction in their physical activity levels.

As a result their gait and balance deteriorates.

This puts them at an increased risk of falling; which is exactly what they were trying to avoid in the first place.

It is important to keep moving and to exercise.

Ernie Read, a 90 year old resident of Mount Forest, participates in the Boosting Balance program offered by the Mount Forest Family Health Team.

He has been attending the weekly group since 2018 and feels that it has had a positive impact on his mobility and balance.

Read had a fall three months ago, luckily he was able to get up independently and was not injured.

He attributes this positive outcome to exercising regularly – he attends Boosting Balance weekly and also enjoys walking outside with his walking poles.

Read would also like to encourage those who are exercising alone to always wear a whistle as it is an inexpensive way to attract attention if help is needed.

Seniors in Wellington County have access to the VON SMART exercise program.

This exercise program runs throughout Wellington County and is free.

“Exercise is the universal prescription to pretty much everything,” said Kelly Gee, VON SMART exercise coordinator, and member of the Safe Communities Falls PAG.

“Frailty is not inevitable in fact it is reversible.

“It is never too early or too late to start exercising.”

Sue Hodgson, a participant of the VON SMART exercise program shared her fall story.

While out with a friend at a restaurant, a hot beverage was overturned and in an effort to get out of the way Hodgson quickly moved away from the table forgetting the step to their booth and fell.

This fall could have resulted in a life changing injury, but Hodgson who had been attending the SMART exercise program 2 to 3 times per week was able to walk away with her independence intact.

Hodgson’s fitness level contributed to her resilience to injury and she was right back exercising the very next day.

Exercise increases bone density reducing the risk of a fracture.

Don’t let a fall steal your independence.

If you have any questions about the SMART exercise program call the VON  519-323-2330 or the Boosting Balance program call Olivia at 519-323-0255 ext. 5083.

Submitted by Helen Edwards,  Program coordinator,

Mapleton Seniors’ Centre for Excellence