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Senior Living Communities Find Balance and Strength Program Beneficial for Residents

Florida Atlantic University Partners with Abbey Delray, Abbey Delray South and Harbour’s Edge for Research

DELRAY BEACH, FL — Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death in adults 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With one in three adults in that age group experiencing a fall each year, three South Florida senior living communities partnered with Florida Atlantic University (FAU) for a wellness program aimed at improving balance and strength. Fifteen residents from Abbey Delray, Abbey Delray South and Harbour’s Edge, all owned and operated by Lifespace Communities, Inc., participated in the program led by Dr. Susan Graves, chair of the Exercise Science and Health Promotion Department. The residents were initially evaluated at FAU to measure gait width, length and speed; lower body strength; functional balance and agility. Evaluations and exercises were administered with computerized equipment, specially designed to record individual results and progress.

During the six-week program, residents met three days a week at their respective facility’s fitness centers. Participants took part in various exercises designed to improve upon their initial evaluations, with the goal of improving balance, strength and overall wellness, thus, decreasing the chance of falls.

Results showed residents’ average lower-body strength improved 20 percent, balance and agility improved 9 percent and gait qualities improved 16 percent, which Dr. Graves called astounding.

“The significant improvements made by this group of residents show that this exercise program can greatly reduce the risk of falls,” said Dr. Graves.

Abbey Delray, Abbey Delray South and Harbour’s Edge all hope to continue and expand the program by offering it to more residents.

“We want to make sure our residents are living active and healthy lives,” said Mike Schmidt, fitness director at Abbey Delray South. “Reducing the risk of falls is an important factor in achieving that goal.”

Founded in 1976, Lifespace Communities, based in Des Moines, Iowa, is a not-for-profit corporation that has grown to operate 12 continuing care retirement communities in seven states, serving more than 5,000 residents and employing 2,500 team members. Communities are located in Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Florida. The organization is recognized by the LeadingAge Ziegler Top 100 as the seventh largest not-for-profit senior living provider system in the country. For more information about Lifespace and its communities, visit