Senior Fitness Expert Adrian Cagigas Q+A on Fall Risks


Adrian Cagigas is Prestige Senior Living’s senior fitness expert. He helps design and implement programs to help our residents stay active, while also providing expertise on how to prevent and reduce falls.

Adrian is a licensed athletic trainer, and in addition to his work with Prestige, owns and operates Uptown Sports Medicine, LLC in Vancouver, Washington. His experience also includes a long career working with college and high school athletics programs.

In this interview, Adrian discusses his background, some of the risk factors seniors face, common injuries from falls as well as what to expect during the webinar:

What is your background in working with seniors and their fitness?

Adrian Cagigas: “I really started getting into senior fitness about 15 years ago when I was the fitness and wellness director at a gym here in Clark County called Club Green Meadows. The majority of our clients at that time were over the age of 65. I started working with older clients and found that my tool set that I had with regards to sports injuries really lent well to working with that population because the majority of people in that age demographic…may have had a knee replacement or a hip replacement or they’re taking medications or are on some form of doctor’s orders, and so I started down that path.

Then I met some people who worked at Prestige during that time who were members there and we started talking. At that time fall prevention was kind of a cutting-edge discussion…we were trying to find ways to move forward with the Baby Boomers, how to improve their quality of life and not have them fall down.

I started researching that and really fell in love with it and found that my knowledge set from sports medicine really lent well to helping them improve their quality of life.”

What are some of the most common injuries seniors suffer from falls?

AC: “In the first part of the webinar we’re going to talk about the CDC’s guidelines on that topic, specifically the number of hospitalizations in a year. Then the common injuries, which include lacerations, fractures, head trauma, and death unfortunately.

Hip fractures are a big one, but arm fractures and concussions are too, a lot of people don’t think about that. When you start to fall down you tend to try to brace yourself, so wrist and arm and extremity fractures are common.

Hip fractures are at the forefront because everyone is kind of scared of that – it’s ‘I don’t want to break my hip because then I won’t be able to move around’. But other serious injuries get overlooked, like head injuries, when it comes to falling.”

What are some of the mental health aspects seniors face when it comes to falling?

AC: “It definitely affects their mental status and their quality of life. They become scared and sheltered and they don’t want to move. And let’s face it, when you don’t move you don’t feel good. Your self-esteem is chipped away at, a lack of wanting to get up and go to the restroom in the middle of the night is going to be affected, so all of that can increase your cognitive decline.

And movement has been proven in current neuroscience literature to help stave off cognitive decline. They still don’t know why exactly Alzheimer’s happens, but they have found that moving is really important to reducing that risk of falling.”

What are some tips for seniors or their loved ones to prevent falling?

AC: “Number one: handrails in the bathroom. Lighting is also really important. Making sure if they have rugs, to have some sort of non-slip surface under them so they don’t fall down. Making sure their footwear is fitted properly, those are common inside-the-home ones.

The majority of these individuals have lived in their home their whole life and they bought in when it was not really fall-proofed. Now that they’re older, they may need to invest in fall-proofing. So handrails, lighting, making sure there’s not stuff to trip on.

In terms of fall-proofing themselves, getting in touch with a good professional who can assess your biomechanics, assess your posture and prescribe the correct exercises that are needed… That’s what’s so beneficial about the Celebrations product I helped Prestige design – the majority of exercises contained within that program are designed to target the specific muscle groups that will help you walk more efficiently.”

What are some of the fitness initiatives Prestige Senior Living runs with its residents?

AC: “We have Wellness Coaches who run our fall prevention classes. First you get assessed by our Wellness Coaches inside the building. They’ll run you through a six-part senior fitness assessment to assess which classes will benefit you the best based on your abilities. Then the classes happen two to three times a week, sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening. We offer three different classes: Activate, Invigorate and Energize – one’s a seated-based class, one’s a mid-level class where it’s seated and standing and the third’s a more activities-driven class.”