Did you know that falls are the number one cause of injuries for Canadians 65 years or older?
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, falls are the leading reason for injury-related hospital stays and linked to over 1/3 of admissions to long-term care facilities for seniors. Those are pretty alarming statistics. It not only means personal distress and reduced quality of life, but loss of independence for thousands of Canadians every year.
Luckily, improving balance and mobility can play a huge role in fall prevention. As we age, our equilibrium declines and it becomes more difficult to keep or recover our balance.
Better Balance with Surefeet, is a series of classes developed to help older individuals rebuild their balance, strength and agility. Started by certified Fallproof instructors Judy Bjornson and Susan Bock Smith in 2010, this unique program is widely admired and routinely endorsed by both doctors and physiotherapists. It’s currently offered in North Vancouver at Mollie Nye House and Parkgate Community Centre with registration through North Vancouver Recreation & Culture.
Here are a few reasons why the Better Balance with Surefeet program is so special:
- Training helps improve internal balance systems
Did you know there are three systems that control our balance? We rely on input from our vision, vestibular system (inner ear responsible for general equilibrium) and sensory system (nerves at the bottom of our feet). Seniors are susceptible to a variety of issues that affect these systems, such as vision impairment or arthritis, so program instructors use a variety of training exercises and activities to help strengthen systems and improve balance.
- The program is progressive
Better Balance with Surefeet is a registered program where each participant is pre-assessed to determine their risk factors and needs. Participants go through a series of lessons in each class to gradually build up their abilities and move to the next level.
- Includes ongoing education and socialization
To help encourage a healthy lifestyle, classes also include an educational component. Instructors discuss exercise and safety tips with participants to build their confidence, encourage physical activity and keep them safe. There is even an “F & L” (fun and laughter), component according to Susan and Judy. With many seniors feeling isolated at home, these classes are a great opportunity to get out in the community and socialize.
What do participants say? According to Rose, “For the last two years I have not been able to lift my feet up off the floor while standing and after only 2 weeks and four classes I am now able to. I am so thrilled!” And Barbie said, “I can stand for longer, exercise more often and have better balance. I have not had a fall or consequently a break in just over a year!”
Since balance requires good joint mobility and muscle strength, maintaining physical activity is important to preventing falls and injuries. Improving balance and mobility is a great step in fall prevention.
For information on Better Balance with Surefeet classes call 604.983.6496 or search for Surefeet on this website.
About the instructors
Since 2010, Judy Bjornson and Susan Bock Smith have instructed over 1,900 registrants across the North Shore. They also provide similar progression based balance and mobility programs to stroke survivors and individuals living with Parkinsons.
Due to the high demand of these classes, Judy and Susan regularly offer instructor training workshops for other fitness leaders from many geographic areas.