A UBC researcher is looking at ways to help keep elderly residents safe and independent in their later years. One of the key aspects of her research is fall prevention.
“Factors such as muscle strength, steadiness, balance, and physical activity contribute to functional independence and I believe it is important to examine how these factors change in male and females as they age,” says Assoc. Prof. Jennifer Jakobi. “The aim of my research is to help men and women live confidently and independently in their own homes.”
Accidental falls account for more than half of the injuries among Canadians aged 65 years and over, and falls are responsible for 40 per cent of admissions to nursing homes, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The study will investigate early identification of sex-specific changes in the neuromuscular systems that influence functional independence. Specifically, how this differs between men and women across their lifespan.
“Age-related decline is greater in females compared to males,” adds Jakobi, who teaches in the School of Health and Exercise Sciences at the Okanagan campus. “Sex-related influences are one of the most important yet understudied factors in loss of functional independence.”
Jakobi was recently awarded a Killam Research Fellowship from UBC. The fellowship offers Jakobi a recognized study leave to pursue her research that investigates the underlying contributing factors to older adults falling in later life. The research will measure experiences like walking up the stairs, and functional activities like cooking, to understand the control required of the nervous and muscular systems.
“I am incredibly humbled and honoured to receive a Killam Laureate Award,” says Jakobi. “The UBC Killam Research Fellowship has advanced the proficiencies and technical capabilities of my research, and has facilitated international collaboration with European colleagues.”
The UBC Faculty Research Award recognizes the university’s most promising young scientific researchers, says Prof. Gordon Binsted, Dean of the Faculty of Health and Social Development.
“Dr. Jakobi’s novel research will help inform geriatricians and exercise specialists in fall prevention,” says Binsted. “Doing so will reduce the health care burden, and more importantly, improve the quality of life for older adults.”
Jenn Jakobi’s research into fall prevention for seniors aims to help keep elderly residents safe and independent in their later years.