A Holistic Approach to Addressing Falls in Older Adults During a Pandemic

2021 Poster ~

Shannon Martin, OTR/L, OTD, BCG ~ Associate Professor and Doctoral Capstone Coordinator ~ School of Occupational Therapy, Touro University Nevada:
Shannon Martin is an occupational therapist and associate professor at Touro University Nevada. She is board certified in gerontology from the American Occupational Therapy Association. Shannon Martin is involved in the community with the evidence-based, multifactorial fall prevention program Stepping On as a leader and master trainer and serves as chair of the Nevada Goes Falls Free Coalition.

John V. Rider, MS, OTR/L, MSCS, CEAS ~ Assistant Professor /  Occupational Therapist ~ School of Occupational Therapy, College of Health and Human Services, Touro University Nevada:
John (Johnny) Rider is an occupational therapist and assistant professor at Touro University Nevada. His clinical practice focuses on community-based therapy, serving the aging population with chronic disease management and fall prevention expertise. Johnny teaches two evidence-based community fall prevention programs: Tai Ji Quan Moving for Better Balance and Stepping On. He currently works for Good Life Therapy providing community-based occupational therapy for adults and older adults throughout Southern Nevada.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, many older adults have had to limit their community engagement as a result of Stay at Home orders within their local communities. Additionally, due to the increased risks posed by COVID-19 in aging populations, many of the community-based resources that serve this population have been limiting in-person activities and services. All of this has culminated in many older adults experiencing increased social isolation, decreased access to healthcare providers, and decreased physical activity, all of which can increase the risk of falls. Furthermore, essential in-home services that help older adults with instrumental activities of daily living such as home management and cleaning and meal preparation leave additional risks for falls within the home. Finally, aging resources have found that older adults are at an increased risk of falls while receiving meal and package deliveries at their homes. Practical ways to mitigate the risks of falls and prevent social isolation include providing fall prevention strategies through telehealth services. Occupational therapists can address multifactorial risk factors for falls during the pandemic through telehealth by providing suggestions for home modifications, instrumental activities of daily living, and package delivery that older adults can easily implement on their own. Home exercise programs and suggestions for activity engagement can be provided to increase physical activity, improve balance, and mitigate the negative effects of decreased community engagement. By engaging with the older adult and their family members and/or caregivers, occupational therapists can additionally address the social isolation that may occur from COVID-19 and resulting social distancing recommendations. This poster will share practical strategies for addressing fall risks in older adults in the virtual realm.