Older people encouraged to take S.T.E.P.S towards better health

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust is encouraging older people in the Antrim area to take part in a new exercise and education programme to help maintain and improve mobility and prevent falls which can have a significant detrimental impact on older people. It is estimated that 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 and 1 in 2 over the age of 80 fall every year.

Stepping Towards Enhanced Postural Stability (STEPS) is a 12 - 16 week exercise and education programme which takes place in Day Care Centres across the Northern Trust area.

The programme is available to adults over 55 years of age who have a fear of falling; feel unstable; have a history of falls (with or without injury); have osteoporosis; or participate in limited or no physical activity.

STEPS focuses on increasing and improving physical activity levels; teaching the knowledge skills to assist with improving balance and leg muscle strength and movement, control and posture.

Most importantly the programme helps older people to remain confident in their daily activities and reduces the number of falls and fractures which would have an impact on their health and wellbeing. Participants will attend the Day Centre once a week, where they will receive an hour’s education based upon relevant falls prevention and health improvement subjects. This will then be followed by an hour of specific, targeted and progressive exercises. Participants will be encouraged to continue with the exercises at home and include them in their weekly activities to help maintain the benefit.

Brian Serplus, Head of Residential and Day Care Services for Older People’s Services in NorthernTrust said,

“Physical activity is now accepted as a major contributor to good health throughout life. It also has a crucial role in both preventing and managing many conditions that are associated with old age.

Poor muscle strength and balance are a major risk factor for falls, while good muscle strength and balance are key components for maintaining an upright posture and ability to prevent falls.

A significant proportion of disability associated with old age is a result of disuse not disease. In other words, ‘if you do not use it, you lose it’. This emphasises the need for our older population to maintain and / or improve their muscle strength and balance”.

The service users from Antrim Day Centre took part in the STEPS Programme and felt it was a huge benefit to them. Some of them have commented:

“As a result of doing this programme I am now able to walk into church each Sunday”.

“Not only have I benefited physically from the programme, I made many friends who I continue to meet up with”.

“ My fear of falling has been greatly reduced and I an now confident enough to go out shopping on my own”.

If you are interested in taking part in the STEPS programme please contact Mr John Logan, Manager, Antrim Day Centre, Station Road, Antrim 028 9441 6515.

Page last updated:17 December 2013