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Finding the right balance: Weiss fitness study aims to decrease seniors’ falls

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More than one-third of adults over age 65 fall every year, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year. That could be your grandparents, your parents or even you.


As a result of their falls, approximately 10 percent of these patients sustain a major injury such as a fracture, soft tissue or brain injury. In addition to physical signs of injuries, balance problems and weakness may contribute to mental and emotional issues as well. Deterioration of self-confidence may contribute to a person’s abilities to care for herself or interact socially.

“Fall prevention in older adults is so important,” said Caren Perlmuter, vice president of development for senior services at Weiss.

Perlmuter wanted to create an exercise class at Weiss to help older adults build muscle, in order to aid in balance and help prevent falling.

She developed the idea for a fall study with Dr. Dheeraj Mahajan, geriatrics medical director, who was looking to start a fall prevention and injuries clinic. They called on exercise physiologist Paul Radzki to run the study, and in October enrolled 50 people between the ages of 60 and 80. Most of the participants are female.

“They love it. They love me. What can I say?” said Radzki.

As part of the study, Radzki holds exercise classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week. They gather in the Leland Lobby, using chairs, steps and resistance bands to workout during the hour-long sessions.

Radzki measures participants’ progress through body mass index (BMI), heart rate, balance, height, weight and blood sugar screenings at the beginning of every month. “Every assessment, it’s a huge difference. I see it too, physically and mentally,” Radzki said.

He cites potential benefits such as decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, and decreased blood pressure and body fat. Participants improve their strength, endurance, metabolism and balance.

Already, participants have written letters to Weiss chief executive officer Frank Molinaro asking that he approve the study’s continuation. But Radzki has a slightly different study in mind. While he plans to finalize results from the fall study in January, Radzki said he wants the next study to concentrate on exercise’s role in depression and mental processes.

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