Category: Maximizing Quality of Life

19 - The Way to be is Fall Free

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. While falls pose a significant risk to the older adult population, there are preventative measures that can be taken to support older adults living safe, healthy, and independent lives.

Due to Idaho having a large aging adult population, the Fit and Fall Proof™ (FFP) was developed in 2004.  FFP is an exercise-based fall prevention program for older adults in Idaho that focuses on improving strength, mobility, and balance. Local volunteer class leaders are trained to teach classes in their communities. Classes are held in places such as senior centers, community centers, churches, libraries and hospitals. FFP classes enable older adults to maintain an independent lifestyle, improve strength, balance, posture, flexibility and endurance. FFP helped more than 2,400 Idaho adults stay fit, prevent falls, and form lasting friendships in 2016-2017. There were over 9,300 visits to more than 125 FFP class sites in Idaho.

As one of Idaho’s health districts, Southeastern Idaho Public Health operates ten Fit and Fall Proof™ sites with over 230 participants. The FFP exercise classes are offered for free or at low-cost and are held two-to-three times per week for 45-60 minutes for 10-week sessions. Participants are encouraged to do an 8-foot “Timed Up and Go” (TUG) test on the first and last day of class to evaluate their progress. Results for the TUG test demonstrated great improvement after participating for 10 weeks with new participants showing the greatest improvement. Out of twelve randomly selected participants, eight improved their TUG scores within the range of .20 to 2.69 seconds. These results are directly related to the participant’s total attendance during the 10-week session, as they are improving their balance, strength and mobility by attending more classes.

Along with the successful TUG test scores, nearly 7 in 10 participants reported improvement in their physical functioning, such as performing activities of daily living or walking. Almost 3 in 4 participants reported an increase in their energy levels and improved mental health. Fit and Fall Proof™ is an evidence-based intervention that is changing lives by helping aging adults maintain their independence!






Michelle A. Butterfield

Health Education Specialist Senior
Southeastern Idaho Public Health
Pocatello, Idaho

Michelle Butterfield is a Health Education Specialist Senior in the Health Promotion Division at Southeastern Idaho Public Health. She has been employed by Southeastern Idaho Public Health since September 2006. She received both her Bachelor's and Master's in Health Education from Idaho State University. She is the Fall Prevention Program Coordinator and coordinates and supervises fall prevention exercise classes and provides education to aging adults to keep them safe and living independently in their homes. She has established many community partners such as Pocatello Fire Department, Area Agency on Aging, Idaho State University Physical Therapy Department, and several senior centers in efforts to prevent falls in her community. She attended the National Fire Protection Association "Remembering When" Conference in November 2016 and has implemented the program in Pocatello by conducting presentations and home safety checks.