Lifelong Health & Aging

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The Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health (CEALH) entered into a contract with Fairfax County Adult and Aging Services to conduct a brief study of the Independent Living Program. The ElderLink Independent Living Program is a health and wellness class focused on fall prevention and safety. This program combines 6 weeks of educational workshops addressing various risks to independence (which in turn increase the risk of falling) with 6 weeks of exercise designed to increase strength and balance. The 6-week program is followed by a home assessment by a social worker. This in-home assessment addresses not only the physical environment but also any medical and social services needs observed. An in-home consultation with an occupational therapist is also utilized and some minor home safety modifications, such as installation of grab bars, threshold ramps, bath benches, hand held shower heads, second handrails, step repairs, etc. are made. The last workshop also includes a “feedback” session where the participants are encouraged to discuss what they learned, what they will do and any comments on the home visit. The social worker is present at all the workshops contributing to the development of rapport with the participants who might not otherwise welcome the attention of a “social worker” and a home assessment. Each home assessment is followed with written recommendations to address any needs or concerns identified. For those who would benefit from additional care coordination, appropriate agency referrals are made. The workshops are held in close to home locations, such as faith communities, community centers and senior centers, allowing the participants ease of access and non-threatening environments. This brief study included a literature review of evidence-based tools for fall prevention programs similar to the Independent Living Program and analysis of the surveys completed by Independent Living participants. ecommendations are proposed for additional and ongoing evaluation of the program.