For the Insider
The fear of falling does not have to limit your independence. Learn what you can do to prevent falls by attending “A Matter of Balance,” a nationwide, evidence-based program offered by Concord Regional VNA that uses recommendations from healthcare professionals, exercise and experiences of participants to help older adults conquer the fear of falling.
“When I registered, I thought I could get something out of it and I did,” said Juanita Martin, who completed the program in Concord. “The biggest thing I learned was not to be in a hurry. Take your time and people will understand. If you need help, ask. You don’t have to be embarrassed to ask for help.”
“I was very impressed with the program and the instructors,” Martin added. “They made you think and just didn’t feed you the program information.”
Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can lead to moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas and are a leading cause of hospitalizations.
Fortunately, falls are preventable. “A Matter of Balance” was developed at the Roybal Center at Boston University to benefit older adults who: are concerned about falls; have sustained a fall in the past; restrict activities because of concerns about falling; are interested in improving flexibility, balance and strength; and are age 60 or older, physically active and able to problem solve.
Among the topics covered are examining and evaluating the fear of falling and the reasons older adults restrict activities, warm-up exercises, strength and balance, why falls happen, and techniques on how to get back on your feet if you fall. Realistic goals for increasing activities are set and how to make changes to reduce falls risk at home are discussed.
“One participant was hesitant to attend family gatherings because she was afraid of falling,” said Marge Burke, who completed a program in Warner. “The group suggested that she attend the gatherings, sit in a common area and have the grandchildren come to her. This way, she would not miss any family gatherings and the grandchildren could have their own special time with their grandparent. I think we became cheerleaders for each other.”
I encourage any person over the age of 60 to sign up for a class today and start taking control of their personal wellness. I have seen this program help many older adults increase their physical activity level, improve assertiveness skills and make positive changes to “fall-ty” behaviors.
“A Matter of Balance” received the 2006 Healthcare and Aging Award from the American Society on Aging, as well at the 2006 Innovations and Achievements Award from the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. For more information about the program, call 224-4093 or 1-800-924-8620, ext. 5815 or visit crvna.org.
Keliane Totten, vice president of community engagement at Concord Regional VNA, is responsible for the oversight of community health service programs and education. Concord Regional VNA is a contributing member of the Capital Area Wellness Coalition (CAWC), which coordinates community resources and builds partnerships to create a culture of healthy living for everyone. The CAWC meets monthly on the second Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Center for Health Promotion, 49 S. Main St. Visit capwellness.org to learn more.