Leonard Schanfield Research Institute Implements Evidence-Based Falls Prevention Programs


As one of only eight grantees selected nationwide out of 73 applicants, CJE SeniorLife is a recipient of an Administration for Community Living (ACL) 2020 Evidence-based Falls Prevention Grant designed to increase the availability of falls-prevention efforts to reduce the risk of falls among older adults.

Schanfield Research Institute Implements Evidence-baed Falls Prevention Programs

Among people age 65 and older, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and hospitalizations. However, falls are not part of a normal aging process and evidence-based programs can help to achieve better health outcomes.

Over the three-year grant period, CJE will deliver a suite of evidence-based falls prevention programs:

Tai Chi for Arthritis and Falls Prevention. Research has shown Tai Chi to be one of the most effective exercises for preventing falls. Tai Chi for Arthritis helps people with arthritis to improve all muscular strength, flexibility, balance, stamina, and more.

Bingocize®. This is a 10-week program that combines a bingo-like game with exercise and health education. The unique addition of bingo addresses many of the barriers to older adults’ participation because the game is fun, familiar, and done in a group setting. The program has been shown to increase older adults’ functional fitness, health knowledge, and social engagement in a variety of settings. The overall goals of the program are to help older adults 1) improve and/or maintain mobility and independence; 2) learn and use health information focused on falls reduction and other health-related behaviors; and 3) socially engage with other older adults.

Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL). This is a strength, balance and fitness program for adults 65 and older—primarily those with a history of falls. SAIL accommodates people with a mild level of mobility difficulty (e.g. people who occasionally walk with a cane or walker) and exercises can be done standing or sitting. SAIL is offered 2 times a week in a one-hour class.

Otago Exercise Program (OEP). This is an eight-week program introducing 17 strength and balance exercises that have been shown to reduce falls by about 33% in older adults with frailty. Participants are encouraged to continue their exercises at home and are supported by monthly phone calls and check-ins.

According to Dr. Margaret Danilovich, Senior Director of the Leonard Schanfield Research Institute and the Project Leader, “Among people over the age of 65, one in four will fall each year and these falls contribute to physical decline, depression, and social isolation. However, evidence-based programs like the ones above are proven mechanisms to help older adults reduce their risk for falls, improve their quality of life, and increase their overall physical functioning.”

In total, CJE aims to enroll over 6,000 older adults in falls prevention programs over the course of the grant. It will do so by partnering with a number of other organizations including the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, JCC Chicago, Sinai Health System, Concordia University Chicago, the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly, the Lutheran Church Central Illinois District, and the University of Chicago SHARE network. Danilovich concludes, “Through our partnership with a variety of aging service providers throughout the Chicagoland area and central Illinois, we will be able to increase the availability of these important programs to older adults.”

The Sage Resource Project: Taking the Bureau of Sages Nationally

The Sage Resource Project: Taking The Bureau of Sages Nationally

Rachel Lessem, PhD, JD, Research Scientist, Leonard Schanfield Research Institute

Since 2016, the Leonard Schanfield Research Institute (LSRI) at CJE SeniorLife has been dedicated to including in research the voice of those older adults receiving long-term care. This voice is largely absent from health research, often leading to the development of ineffective programs and policies. The Bureau of Sages, comprised of Lieberman Center for Health and Rehabilitation residents, was the first of its kind: a research board in which older adults in long-term care advised researchers on their work. Now, with a project funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award (#EATR-18926), CJE is poised to become a national leader in promoting engaged research with older adults by educating researchers in The Sage Resources and training them in The Sage Model.

The Sage Resources are materials developed by CJE researchers that train others in building, operating, and evaluating research advisory boards. The Sage Model is an approach to partnering researchers and long-term care providers to create research advisory boards (see cje.net/bureauofsages). Dr. Rachel Lessem, Research Scientist at CJE’s LSRI, will lead this 12-month project—the third consecutive PCORI award for CJE. Its goal is to improve the inclusion of older adult voices and perspectives in federally-funded research. To accomplish this, CJE has partnered with the National Institute on Aging funded centers to catalyze education for researchers on The Sage Model. The National Institute on Aging not only funds critical research on aging but has created networks of research centers housed in academic institutions across the country. Along with Drs. Rebecca Berman and Margaret Danilovich in the LSRI, the CJE research team will help researchers across the county: 1) gain skills to form research boards at their own academic institutions; 2) develop skills to successfully engage with existing research advisory boards to improve patient-centered research; and 3) become advocates and champions of The Sage Resources and The Sage Model.

The CJE team will conduct a national survey of researchers in aging, lead a series of webinars on The Sage Resources and The Sage Model, provide on-site training workshops for researchers to connect them with long-term care providers, and help create two new research advisory boards. Ultimately, the acceleration of The Sage Model through this National Institute on Aging centers nationwide (see maps) will prepare researchers to actively engage with older adults in the design, implementation, and interpretation of research. As one current Bureau of Sages member stated, “We lived before we came here. We didn’t just come from outer space. We lived and loved and learned before we came here. We are, we were, and we are still here making contributions.” This project will amplify their voices and their contributions to a national platform.