As the aging population increases, many older adults are moving into assisted living facilities to maintain their independence. Exercise programs are now a standard offering at most assisted living facilities not only as a ‘benefit,’ but also to maintain functional independence and prevent falls. Programs such as the First Step to Active Health using Thera-Band resistance bands have been successfully used in many older adult exercise programs.
Physical therapy researchers at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut evaluated the impact of a wellness program on function and falls in older adults at an assisted living facility. The program included upper and lower body strength and flexibility activities using free weights and resistance bands. All residents completed a functional baseline screening including balance, strength and cognition. The baseline measurement was used to help direct the resident into a specific program such as a fall prevention class or aquatic exercise regimen. Their participation in these programs was tracked over 12 months, and 2 groups were identified: regular and non-regular participants. After 12 months, the regular exercise group improved or remained the same level of balance and endurance, while the non-regular exercisers declined. In addition, the non-regular exercise group had more falls than regular exercisers.
Thera-Band resistance bands are effective at increasing strength and balance in older adults. This study showed that regular participation in a wellness program in assisted living facilities can limit functional decline and reduce falls in older adults.
REFERENCE: Hatch J, Lusardi MM. Impact of participation in a wellness program on functional status and falls among aging adults in an assisted living setting. J Geriatr Phys Ther. 2010 Apr-Jun;33(2):71-7.