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July 30, 2008 > Pathways To Positive Aging: Bring life to your life!

Pathways To Positive Aging: Bring life to your life!

Submitted By Maureen Parent

First there was Jack LaLanne - big. Then Jane Fonda - bigger. Then Denise Austin - bigger still.

Now it is LIFE ElderCare's exercise program "Get Up and Go" that has people talking and seeing results. The most surprising aspect of the program is that it's for frail, homebound seniors and it's offered free to those age 60 and over in the Fremont, Newark and Union City Area.

LIFE ElderCare, a non profit established in 1975, provides the basics of life - food, friendship and increased mobility in order that seniors can continue to live independently in their own homes for as long as safely possible. The four direct service programs - Meals on Wheels, Friendly Visitors, VIP Rides and Fall Prevention - reflect that living longer should not mean living less. "Realizing that in addition to food and companionship, keeping seniors mobile is just as important to their quality of life," commented Mary M. Anderson, Executive Director, LIFE ElderCare. As a result, in 2005, LIFE ElderCare initiated a program geared toward preventing falls and increasing seniors' balance, dexterity and stamina. To date 653 have enrolled in the 12-week fall prevention program. We can also work with non-English speakers and those who are physically impaired.

Each year one in three Americans aged 65 and older falls and thirty percent of such falls cause injuries requiring medical treatment. Falls are harmful, falls are painful, and falls can change your life forever. The good news? Falls can be prevented.

"There are over 9,000 home-bound seniors in the Tri-City Area that would benefit from our program," stated Maureen Parent, Fall Prevention Coordinator. We are searching for them." Those who have found their way to the program have shown good results. Progress is measured using an industry standard, Berg and Tinetti testing. One client was totally bedridden for 2 1/2 years and told she'd never walk again. Now, with the aid of a walker, she enjoys daily walks in her neighborhood. Another client enjoys the simple pleasure of combing her own hair, a daily living activity that she could not do for the past five years.

"Success comes in so many ways." Parent explained. "For some it's the strength to stop a fall. Others are now able to go for a walk with a friend. To one woman, the ability to lift her little dog brought joy into her days. A daughter found relief in knowing her father could continue to live with her, now that he can transfer himself from his bed to his wheelchair." Other clients are equally enthusiastic. One daughter was so surprised to have her father up and walking again that she called to enroll her mother-in-law!

A significant strength of the program is the collaboration between LIFE ElderCare and Unitek College whereby, skilled nursing students from Unitek College assist enrolled seniors with their in-home exercises. Following an orientation, Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) students visit seniors once a week to do their routine with them, monitor progress, and encourage them to do their exercises through out the week. Each personally tailored routine is approved by the clients' primary care physician. Through the use of resistance bands, gentle stretching and strengthening aim to improve balance and gait. The students bring their expertise, counsel, compassion, youth and enthusiasm to the program.

Jaswinder Singh, a LVN, who is training to be a RN, has been with the program for several years. "We are hope for them, their voice, because they are isolated, along with the exercises we give them socializing, a friend and something to look forward to" Singh says. "They recognize us with a smile when we arrive."

Home safety assessments and recommendations are conducted. Sometimes minor home modifications such as grab bars, shower chairs and hand held showers are provided. Medication management is also provided to help avoid possible drug interactions, which are a leading cause of falls.

The average participant is eighty-four years old. So, it's never too late to begin. Ask our client who began the program at the age of 100! Bring LIFE to your life! Give us a call at
(510) 574-2088 or visit www.lifeeldercare.org.

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