Falls can be harmful--causing pain and requiring time, effort, and care to recover from afterwards. At the age 65, one in three people experience a fall. And though this is a large number of people, it doesn't mean that one must accept falling as inevitable. Falls can be prevented, and that number can be reduced with the proper action.

For our upcoming Senior Living LIVE! webinar, we will be hearing from Dr. Dan Quirk from Fox Rehabilitation, to discuss improving strength, fall prevention in the immediate environment, and overall safety. These are the things he suggests can reduce one's risk of a serious fall.

Click the video to watch the preview now, and don't forget to register for the full webinar by visiting ArborCompany.com/Falls

Video Transcript 

- Hello everyone, and welcome into "Senior Living LIVE." My name is Melissa as always. I hope you are having a fantastic day today. I have Dr. Dan Quirk with me to talk about our upcoming webinar on March 24th, entitled "Preventing falls." You can join us live for that at 4:00 PM Eastern time. Dr. Quirk, thank you so much for joining me today.

- Thanks for having me, Melissa.

- All right. So quick preview of what we're going to learn in this upcoming webinar about preventing falls. You are a physical therapist and a geriatric certified specialist. Tell us what that means exactly and how becoming a GCs, if you will has changed your overall views as a physical therapist.

- Absolutely. Yeah. So as physical therapists throughout school, we were trained very much as generalists. So we learn a lot about or a little bit about a lot of things. So we learn about young adults and kids and older adults, but we're not taught to be specialists in one specific specific area. So that's why we at Fox and myself personally strive to be a certified specialist in geriatrics which really teaches us specifically about the older adult. And the way that's changed my practice is it really opens your eyes to the potential that older adults have. A lot of us growing up and then even through school, think that, once you get past a certain age you don't have much room to thrive and improve. And what it taught us in the GCs program was that there's so much more potential in older adults than sometimes we give credit for. And it kind of taught us how to access that and how to figure out how to maximize someone's independence and how to really maximize their potential, even into their older years.

- Yeah. Great answer. Well, of course, the webinar, as we said, is called "Preventing falls." You hear so much about this when it comes to our seniors as we've been talking about, as they age. Would you say this is one of the top one, two or three things you see in your practice. And also why does this seem to really affect the senior population then perhaps, more so, than perhaps our younger patients?

- It really is. Yeah. Most patients that we see in our practice have either had a fall or are at risk of falling. So we spent a lot of our time focused on helping with that. So, and one thing I like to reiterate to folks that we'll talk about on the webinar a good bit is, falls are more common as we age, after 65, one in three people fall every year. So it's more common, but it's not normal, right? It's still pathological. We're just like, heart disease or diabetes, there still is treatment. There's ways to reverse it. It's not just inevitable. And there's a lot of things we can do to help. But, the biggest reasons, as we age if we're not proactive, we lose up to 5% of our strength every decade after our 30th birthday. That's preventable if we do the right exercises, when you have the right program, but that leads to so many downstream effects a lot of which is, falls and issues with falls. So that's big focus of what we figure out in therapy with our practices, identifying the underlying cause of fall risk and trying to help out, which, that's multifaceted, but a lot of it has to do with strength and home set up and just overall safety that we can help to help older adults navigate their world a little safer.

- Yeah. And before we get to the next question, I have actually, I think it's maybe a good opening here to describe your practice. What is the name of your practice? Who are you, and where can we find you across the country?

- Sure. So I practice with an organization called Fox Rehabilitation. So we are a private practice that's throughout 22 States at the present moment. So we just actually opened up shop in Texas this year. So we're kind of mostly in the Northeast to the Southeast of the country, but starting to spread out to the Midwest and even down the Southwest. So our practice has an innovative model. Our founder, Dr. Tim Fox, he's a physical therapist, and he founded our practice to treat older adults in their home but a little different than the traditional model. So we are an outpatient practice on wheels. So we bring outpatient therapies to older adults in their home. So, it's higher intensity, it's higher level goals. It's more visits potentially, but a lot of it at a higher intensity than traditional home health care. And that really helps older adults not only get safe enough but really maximize their independence in their home or whatever home environment they have at that moment in their life.

- And that is a fantastic segue to the next question. And as we know, falls can happen anywhere. But how important of a role does housing play, the difference between someone perhaps living in a home that they've had for 50 years, as opposed to maybe somebody who is living in a senior living community? Is there a happy medium between the two there? Is there one that's better than the other?

- Sure. Like everything, there is a happy medium, so many factors go into play when we're looking at living situations with older adults, but specific to falls, yes, housing and just home set up in general has a tremendous effect. Things like lighting in a home and surface of walking and just general room setup and clutter and things like that that seems simple are so important. So when I think of that question, I mean, I've seen all sorts of home setups from beautiful senior living communities. I've treated patients in brand new Arbor communities myself. So I've seen the best of the best. And then, you see some homes that people for whatever reason in their life, their home situation has turned into something that's not ideal for them. So, in my mind, the ideal is senior housing community that's been thought out fully, I see so many great, innovative ideas in senior living that an untrained I may not notice from things like sliding doors to get into a bathroom because if you have a Walker and you're trying to enter a bathroom space, a swinging door, it's really hard to navigate and can lead to a lot of issues, to proper lighting that maybe even turns on when you're walking by to help navigate darker spaces, because that's so much of our balance has to do with vision and our ability to kind of know where we are in space and without proper lighting, which is so common in older homes to have trouble with lighting, things can get pretty dicey. So the best of the best is senior housing. Of course there's also that the happy medium in my mind is at least having a home safety assessment. we have at our practice occupational therapists that do a fantastic job coming in taking a look at the home environment, taking a look at what that older adult needs to accomplish and trying to figure out how to meet the two, how to make adjustments or how to make modifications to the home to be as safe as possible. But the one thing I always urge folks to do, having worked with so many great senior living providers is to start looking earlier than you think because we see so many people access that sort of housing option when they've already had a fall or an injury or a significant downturn in their health, when, if they would have looked earlier, considered those options earlier, they would have been set up for more success.

- Yeah. And that's great. I mean, you've already listed quite a few tips already that anybody watching can maybe even take care of right now, lighting is so huge. And even just sitting here listening to you, I didn't even think about that. You're thinking more of the physical, the body, well, that your eyes are part of your body and you can't see where you're going or the lighting isn't very good. It sets you up for something not very good, trips and falls. And that's exactly what we're talking about. So great answer there. I know you'll have more of this in your webinar on March 24th. Now, if someone has experienced a fall and they cannot be as active as they once were to sort of work on that core and balance, what are some solutions that you can give them?

- Sure. I mean, step one is always if you've had a fall to consult with your physician just to kind of look at it, just to screen out for anything serious, broken bones, or any sort of serious injury that it needs to be handled from a medical perspective. But if all of that pans out, then, my recommendation is always to have a physical therapist, occupational therapist, just take a look, we'll do a full hour long evaluation to look at each little nuance, part of your balance from home setup to leg strength, to vision and all of the things in between and really start the path to reducing risk. So that may be a sense of physical therapy. And it may be just setting someone up with a personal trainer or a fitness professional that specializes in older adults because so much of the solution is not just in a two or three month therapy stint. It's really the rest of your life. Maintaining the level of physical activity and health that it takes to kind of stay healthy as we age is so important.

- Yeah. Excellent information. And you'll have much more course about preventing falls. You'll be available for questions live as well during this Arbor webinar, March 24th at 4:00 PM Eastern time. If someone just cannot wait, doctor, what is the best way they can get in touch with you right now?

- So the best way to get in touch with us is our website, fox rehabilitation.org that has all the information as far as how to approach your physician for a referral, what to look for in your home setup or in your physical situation to know whether therapy is appropriate for you. So I would recommend people go there, of course attend the webinar because we'll dive much deeper into each of these topics and give people a lot of really good walkaways to really handle a lot of this on their own. But if you need a little help, we're always here in our practice. And if you're in a state that we don't practice within, if you go to our website and look, there's a lot great physical occupational therapists out there that that can help. So that's a resource for people all over the country.

- Absolutely. And one of the biggest resources we find with these webinars is that, somebody can talk to you directly. They can be anonymous, they can get their questions answered and not have to feel like they've got to pick up the phone or that they have to do anything right away. They can just get the information they need and then take the time to consider their options after that. So thank you so much for taking the time to join us today, Dr. Quirk, we will see you soon.

- You're welcome. I'm looking forward to it.

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