Rimbey FCSS led the formation of a committee to increase physical activity and address seniors falls prevention.
Organizations engaged on the committee included the Valleyview Manor, Rimbey Medical Clinic, Home Care Coordinator, Alberta Health Services (AHS) Health Promotion, AHS Physiotherapy, Wolf Creek PCN, Town of Rimbey Recreation Department, and senior community members.
The committee decided to create a walking group with 3 main goals:
- educate seniors on falls prevention
- provide an environment for isolated seniors to connect
- form partnerships within the community to support seniors being active and engaged.
Falls prevention initiatives include Home Safety Checklists, Community Falls Prevention Calendar, Finding Balance materials, seniors exercises, and the “Remembering When” home safety and fire prevention program.
Weekly education session are offered as part of the walking group and monthly in-services for nonparticipants.
Up to 95 individuals have participated, with as many as 35 people during a single walking session.
The committee coordinator was trained in the Nordic Walking Program, and a second committee member was trained in seniors exercise. The walking group meets weekly and incentives, such as pedometers and poles, are used to increase engagement. The New Horizons for Seniors grant was used to purchase the walking poles. The program has given out 90 sets of free poles to participants who walked three or more times during the year.
The group uses walking trails in the community, and moves indoors to the community centre in winter. Sessions are followed by chair exercise and social time. FCSS provides healthy snacks with input from participants and staff volunteer their time to support seniors on their walks.
Seniors reported feeling stronger and having better balance after using the walking poles. One 94 year old gentlemen states he has noticed a huge difference in his balance since walking with the poles. A previously very inactive senior notes they have since become a “walking addict”.
- It does not matter at what age you start to exercise it is beneficial to your health.
- Break the group into different small groups as to their ability and walking speeds so that everyone could participate at their own pace.
- The free set of walking poles was instrumental in helping seniors on a fixed income obtain the equipment needed to participate in the walking program.
- The depth of impact of the social connection on the participants.
There has been a wonderful response to this program which is now going into its third year and still receiving new participants on a regular basis.