Award-Winning C.L.I.M.B. Program
Developed in 2010 by Senior Living Communities, C.L.I.M.B. stands for:
It is a national award-winning wellness program created for seniors to reduce deficiencies in lower-body strength.
Similar to a yearly check-up, health screening, or vaccination, preventative care can help to prevent illness, disease and other health issues that may not be physically apparent. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths worldwide. (1) As we age, physical changes in our health increase the risk of falls and if they occur, can lead to severe injuries including bruises, hip fractures, and head trauma. Hip injuries are hard to recover from, and afterward most individuals are not able to live on their own. The WHO suggests that gait (walking), balance, and functional training are imperative for older people to minimize the risk possibility of falls.
Participating in physical activity improves balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength. For seniors who may not feel comfortable, low-impact activities like walking, tai chi, yoga, aquatic programs and using equipment like recumbent bikes or stair steppers, can sharpen your balance and strengthen the muscles in your lower body. In addition to regular exercise, utilizing programs like C.L.I.M.B., with custom exercises aimed at improving balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and gait, as a preventative measure are important.
In 2010, Senior Living Communities developed the C.L.I.M.B. Program, which stands for Confidence, Longevity, Independence, Mobility and Balance. It is a program that is used to reduce deficiencies in lower-body strength. As we age, these deficiencies may result in a fall or other negative health outcomes and impact an older adult’s ability to remain independent in the future. This program is an example of preventative programming with a purpose.
C.L.I.M.B. is the pinnacle of purpose-based wellness, used to combat chronic diseases and ailments commonly found among the aging population. This program seeks to reverse the negative progression many older adults face once they begin to lose strength in their lower body. Development was based on research conducted by Wake Forest University with applicable permissions and suggestions that simple exercises make a significant difference for older adults.
Implementing the C.L.I.M.B. Program
When this program was created, it was implemented over a 16 week period. At the beginning of the program, community Wellness Directors evaluated Members to establish a baseline for that individual’s lower-body strength. The criteria for measuring baseline strength was an individual’s performance on a timed chair stand, which tests how many times a person can rise from a seated position unassisted in 30 seconds.
The data was collected on each attendee’s progress throughout the program and problem areas were targeted for improvement. At the end of the program, Members were evaluated using the same exercises they performed during their baseline tests, and their results are analyzed so the wellness coordinators can better recommend a wellness strategy which will help them achieve their individual fitness goals. Overall growth among the test groups saw 18.1% improvement in their timed chair stands over the 16-week period.
Since its inception in 2011, decreasing the risk of falls has been at the core of the C.L.I.M.B. program. Today, the C.L.I.M.B. and other classes that have derived from it to focus on decreasing the risk of falls are an integrated part of the wellness program in our community. The class focuses on lower body strength and flexibility utilizing a variety of movements including Sit to Stands, Squats, High Knees, Toe Ups, Calf Raises, and more with multiple repetitions and sets.
The C.L.I.M.B. Difference
Many senior communities provide on-site rehabilitative services and wellness programs to assist older adults in regaining their former levels of function. However, these particular services do not cater to at-risk seniors who fall somewhere in between rehabilitation and active wellness participation. These seniors may not be active enough for a group exercise class so they have to wait for a negative health event such as a fall or hospitalization to occur before gaining access to rehabilitative services. To make matters worse, once they gain access to those services, Medicare and most private insurance policies only cover short-term rehabilitation, typically less than 14 days. Due to the short nature of the program, this often results in those seniors re-injuring themselves or needing further care once they are discharged.
Participating in C.L.I.M.B. is an example of how programming can keep seniors in their own homes with minimal assistance from medical staff. It reduces the risk of falling and improves mobility, allowing them the opportunity to remain independent.
One of the reasons for its success is because of how quickly participants see results. Individual success rates are closely monitored, allowing wellness coordinators to target problem areas quickly so they can develop a purpose-driven wellness solution for members. The program is a happy marriage between classic exercise programs adults favor at younger ages and rehabilitative services offered in a long-term care setting. The end result is a practical wellness program that makes strides in keeping older adults more independent as they age.https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/falls.