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Mrs. S. is 95. She lives alone, and her house in Queens has six entry-way steps—but she’s unable to climb stairs. Her gait is unsteady, and she struggles with balance. She uses a rolling walker but has fallen within the past year, and she’s afraid of falling again. Because of her history with falls and her continued risk, her doctor’s office referred her to VNSNY’s Strong Foundations.
If you worry about a loved one falling, you’re not alone. Seventy percent of falls occur in the home, and whether your parent lives with you or not, you can’t always be there to help with mobility. Falls are the leading cause of injury among the elderly, and they may involve complications that prevent your loved one from living independently.
This is where Strong Foundations, a new service from VNSNY, can help. “This regimen is designed for older adults living in the community to reduce the risk of falling and avoid complications that result from falls,” says Joe Gallagher, Physical Therapist and Clinical Education Supervisor with VNSNY.
This multidisciplinary approach to falls prevention combines skilled nursing care and physical therapy in a four-part course of treatment:
Although the service's goal is to help patients, caregivers may benefit indirectly. According to Gallagher, “We’ve found that patients in Strong Foundations report feeling stronger and more confident, and have less fear of falling. And when patients become more independent performing activities of daily living, it can reduce the worry or burden a caregiver might feel.”
After five weeks of treatment, Mrs. S. noticed that her balance had improved enough that she was able to use a cane instead of a walker and could negotiate 15 steps using her cane. She felt much less fearful of falling, and part of her therapy included training and practice about how to get up if she were to fall.
To find out whether Strong Foundations might be right for your loved one, call 1-855-VNSNY-NOW or visit vnsny.org/strong-foundations.