Idaho: Fit and Fall Proof™ Helps Seniors

In Idaho, about three in four people who die from falls are seniors aged 65 years or older. Accidental falls can cause long-lasting injuries such as broken bones or head injuries; some falls can lead to early death. Falls can also limit seniors’ ability to live on their own. Programs that help seniors control their balance through exercise have helped reduce falls. Idaho used part of its Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funding to make the Fit and Fall Proof™ (FFP) exercise program accessible to older adults throughout the state.

In 2004, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare worked with local university professors to develop the FFP curriculum and peer-leader model. The professors serve as core master trainers and train local health department program coordinators and master trainers who, in turn, train volunteers to conduct the classes in their communities. The PHHS Block Grant funds support Idaho’s seven local health departments to offer FFP. More than 300 volunteers teach free or low-cost classes to more than 7,000 seniors at over 100 locations statewide. Local health departments also connect with healthcare facilities and practitioners to inform them of FFP and fall prevention resources, and encourage them to assess patients’ risks for falls, make referrals, and expand the program’s reach.

By working on flexibility, muscle strength, balance, and posture, the FFP classes help older adults stay agile, active, and independent. They also help seniors lower their risk of injuries from falls and continue daily activities such as working in their gardens, playing with their grandchildren, and tying their shoelaces. Older adults who participate in FFP report better health, fitness, and confidence and are less afraid of falling. In addition, a bonus side benefit is that FFP classes foster social interaction among participants, who form new friendships and develop meaningful connections. Studies find that older adults who have close social connections live longer, handle medical issues better, and experience less stress than their socially isolated counterparts.

Story year: 2015

Photo: Group of master trainers

PHHS Block Grant funding helps support master trainers (such as those shown in the photo) in Idaho’s Fit and Fall Proof™ exercise program.

Page last reviewed: April 17, 2018