The statistics are alarming. Falls are the leading cause of death in people aged 65 and older. One in four people aged 65 and older falls each year. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the ER for a fall. These are the types of stats that make people wonder, “Am I next?”
Because falls are so common, many healthcare providers have begun focusing much more on prevention. One solution is Safe Strides®, a home-based fall prevention program that is making a dramatic difference in the lives of thousands every day by focusing on identifying problem areas in balance, gait, strength, and endurance.
Safe Strides is provided by caregivers from Kindred at Home. The process begins with a thorough assessment to get to the root of any potential problems, such as a person's balance, their ability to move, and other factors that could cause a fall.
The care team will often look for health conditions and symptoms that can increase a person’s risk of falling, such as:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Poor vision
- Multiple medications
- History of falls
- Neuropathy/muscle weakness
- Difficulty walking
The team will also look for diagnoses that can lead to falls, including:
- COPD/respiratory issues
- Heart failure
“Safe Strides isn’t only for older adults who have already had falls – it can help patients recovering from surgery as well,” said Ryan Sharrow, Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Director at Kindred at Home in Duluth, Minnesota. “We recently had a patient who was in a motor vehicle accident, which damaged the patient’s ankle joint, requiring surgery.”
The Safe Strides-trained Physical Therapist was able to help the patient make dramatic improvements in balance, gait speed, and anxiety related to falling.
“Without an understanding of how all of our sensory systems work together, this patient would almost certainly have had a slower recovery,” said Sharrow. “And the anxiety related to the balance deficits would also have made the recovery more emotionally difficult.”
Safe Strides can also help people who have difficulty with moving around for their daily routine get back on their feet. Another patient with Kindred at Home in Twin Cities, Minnesota, Perry, originally was unable do more than one thing at a time, including walking and talking, or walking and carrying an object, or walking and turning his head.
Perry lived in his son’s multi-story home where he had to climb steps to enter the home, to get to the kitchen, and to get to the main living area. He wasn’t able to do any of those things without assistance, and the family asked for Safe Strides to help.
“The results were better than anyone could have imagined. After multiple visits from Safe Strides’ RNs, Physical Therapists and Occupational Therapists, Perry was able get in and out of bed, and walk at almost twice the speed as he was able to previously,” said Mary M. Walker, MSPT, Safe Strides Rehab Director Kindred at Home. “He was consistently walking 600 ft. without an assistive device, and working on increasing his endurance. He was pleased he could take a shower and get out of bed independently.”
Another of Mary’s patients, Anastasia, used Safe Strides to help address weakness in both of her hips, low muscle tone, decreased range of motion and strength in her dominant right shoulder, chronic low back and knee pain.
“Our Physical Therapist was able to show Anastasia how to move her body in space to better reach things, to start using balance strategies, and to have more confidence in her body’s ability to move without falling.” Mary said. “Anastasia’s confidence in her therapist’s abilities, as well as her own, thanks to encouragement and guidance from the therapist, increased her willingness to participate in shower transfer training.”
Not long after, Anastasia reported that she is getting out more and continues to do her exercises to help maintain her mobility.
“We are committed to partnering with referral sources to help reduce falls and avoidable readmissions,” Sharrow said. “These are all things can cause stress and anxiety for patients and their families, and significantly affect quality of life.”
If you have questions about Safe Strides, fall prevention or balance safety, call 1.866.CARE.KAH to speak with a Registered Nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or, find a location near you - Safe Strides is not offered in all locations.