There is substantial evidence supporting older adults’ participation in regular and sustained strength and balance exercise to reduce their risk of falls. Despite their well-documented effectiveness, there are frequently low compliance and adherence rates of older adults with traditional structured strength and balance programs.
Similar to traditional strength and balance programs, the Lifestyle-Integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) program aims to reduce falls and improve function in older people at risk or having previously experienced a falls by having them perform activities that improve their balance and strength. However the most significant difference between a traditional strength and balance program and the LiFE program is that LiFE is based purely in the home. LiFE turns daily tasks and routines into an opportunity to improve balance, strength and prevent falls. For example, performing a squat to pick up items on a low shelf in the kitchen or walking heel to toe down the hallway on the way to the laundry. Evaluation of the LiFE program has demonstrated high adherence and compliance rates among participants, a one third reduction in the incidence of falls and significant improvements in measures of strength and balance.
The Lifestyle-integrated Functional Exercise (LiFE) program is an evidence-based safe, effective and functional strength and balance program for older adults living in the community. For these reasons, Stay On Your Feet® have chosen to deliver LiFE instructor training to health professionals in Perth, with the aim that the LiFE program will be more widely delivered to older adults at risk of falls in Western Australia.
The most recent half-day instructor training course was held on Thursday 26 May, attended by 21 health professionals and facilitated by Physiotherapist and Falls Specialist Tony Petta. Attendees were guided through the fundamentals and purpose of the LiFE program, use of the assessment tool and exercise prescription. Tony also explained the importance of communicating what balance and strength are to older clients. Health professionals need to acknowledge that each client may have a different understanding of strength and balance and their role in the performance of daily activities, the prevention of falls. He also assisted them to explain why strength and balance needed to be progressively challenged to improve and how this could be achieved through specific activities.
As health professionals will be delivering the LiFE program to older adults in the community, client selection was also discussed. LiFE evaluation has identified that not all older adults are suitable for the LiFE program. Clients require a certain level of initiative to identify opportunities to complete the LiFE activities within their daily lives and record their activities as required. Over time, and with support from the health professional, the client will increase ownership over their completion of LiFE activities and eventually contact with the health professional will become very sporadic or cease entirely and can no longer be relied upon to remind or monitor the client’s adherence to the program.
There was also ample opportunities for the attendees to practice using the assessment tool, prescribing activities and discussing the program with a client.
Feedback from the event was extremely positive with the majority of attendees reporting increased confidence to deliver the LiFE program to older adults in the community.
If you are interested in attending a future instructor training course for the Lifestyle-integrated Functional Exercise program and/or Otago Exercise Programme or Tai Chi for Arthritis for Falls Prevention please submit your expression of interest here. The LiFE and Otago instructor training courses will be combined into a one-day workshop and delivered regionally in the following locations:
- During week 24-28 October 2016 in Busselton or Bunbury
- During week 27-31 March 2017 in Kalgoorlie
There is also future LiFE, Otago and Tai Chi instructor training courses planned for metropolitan and other regional areas if there is enough interest. Be sure to submit your expression of interest here if you would like to attend.