When you fall, you CAN get back up, but maybe not for long, the S.A.F.E. program can help.

Back on her feet

Image Anne Lowery Image Anne Lowery Image Anne Lowery

Anne Lowery, 93, had the best intentions in 2017 when she walked onto her daughter’s split-level deck: She thought she’d water some potted flowers. Unfortunately, she didn’t spot one stair, missed it, fell and broke her pelvis.


After an operation and rehabilitation at a live-in center, Anne still felt uneasy standing and walking. That’s when the former Poquoson resident met Hadley Monteith, PT, DPT, who champions the S.A.F.E. (Sentara Awareness for Falls Education) program at Sentara Therapy Center – CarePlex.


“S.A.F.E. features physical therapy sessions for those wishing to work toward fall prevention,” explains Rita Brereton, MPT, Manager, Sentara Therapy Centers. “For the convenience of our patients, we offer this program at Sentara Therapy Centers throughout Hampton Roads.”


Hadley and other physical therapists evaluate new patients daily who would benefit from the S.A.F.E. program.


“My focus is balance treatment, generalized strengthening and gait training tasks during the one-on-one sessions,” Hadley shares.


As a patient becomes more proficient with each task, the therapist will progress his or her training by eliminating upper extremity support and adding uneven surfaces to simulate grass or mulch. The therapist provides treatment in the clinic for as long as necessary and then encourages the patient to complete exercise on his or her own for a period of a few months. The patient then returns to see the therapist to determine if the home exercise program could be progressed to ensure patients are getting stronger. The S.A.F.E. program is designed to check in with patients for a year if necessary to make sure the patient is feeling more stable and comfortable with every day activities.


Anne has participated in the S.A.F.E. program for a full year, returning periodically for check-ins to make sure she is making progress and adapting her exercises as needed.


“Hadley has a schedule of what I should be able to complete and how often,” she says. “I was real proud of myself and what I could do. My physical therapist made me feel like I wanted to show off for. Her tutelage made me feel that way.”


Hadley is happy to report that she saw Anne develop an increased sense of safety living alone after she completed the program, a huge accomplishment for all that Anne has gone through. Anne faced many health challenges in the past years, including lung cancer and a heart attack before her fall. Throughout it, she worked to keep her independence. While she recently decided to move into a home on her daughter’s property near Richmond, she feels confident getting around on her own and caring for herself.


“My fall definitely slowed me down for a time,” says Anne, “but Hadley found a way to keep working with me, and I followed everything she told me to do. I learned exercises to do at home, also.”


Hadley was impressed with Anne’s dedication, describing her as an ideal patient. The physical therapist knows that following the program is how Anne and others can hopefully avoid falls in the future. As the population in the United States ages, the S.A.F.E. program may see an even greater demand for services. The facts about falls show it is definitely worth the time invested to prevent future incidents:

 * More than 30 percent of people 65 and older fall each year; the percentage increases to 50 percent for those over 80.

* Two-thirds of those who fall will fall again within six months.

* 20 to 30 percent of those who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.

* More than 18,000 seniors die from falls each year.

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