Most people have fallen at some point. But as aging progresses, a fall becomes crucial to a senior’s health and future. Training can help prevent injuries.
Seniors Can Improve Balance and Prevent Falls with Simple Exercises.
A Cane May Avoid Parking Lot Falls (See credit for photo at bottom.)
Some think falls are a natural part of aging. Yet it is lesser known that many falls can be prevented. Making changes in one’s surroundings as well as adjusting habits and attitudes are among the preventive measures taught by YMCA instructors at Broward Health Imperial Point Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Overview of Balance Workshop
The class is structured in two hour sessions once a week for eight weeks. This allows for practice and application of the skills learned both in the class and from the written materials studied. Part of the individualized program is to broaden activities by dispelling misconceptions and developing techniques to increase safety.
Participants are taught methods to avoid being run into by side steps and other maneuvers which can help avoid harmful falls. Class members are shown ways to turn a negative situation into a positive or at least a more safe and satisfying experience as they make falls less likely.
Although there is one video as part of the curriculum, most is discussion format which lends itself to individualizing options for the variety of participants’ needs.
A Matter of Balance Workshop Addresses Fear of Falling
The instructors explore how a person’s beliefs can affect decisions about choosing activities in daily life. Sometimes fear keeps older adults from being active, and that very fear actually increases the chances of a life-changing fall. Deciding to avoid venturing outside the home can actually bring about more limitations on one’s independence. Avoiding travel and social activities not only causes emotional and mental loses but may also worsen current physical problems.
Daily activities like stairs or moving around the house are helped by facing the fears and learning techniques to deal with changes which occur with aging. This can not only reduce the chance of falls, but may lessen the injuries if one should occur.
Sitting around can be more dangerous than finding and regularly adjusting to your appropriate level of activity. Using discussion, curriculum, and an individualized exercise program, this workshop helps its attendees adopt a plan and go for it.
To sum up, holding onto fear can mean one doesn’t try to get out and about, whereas concern can bring awareness of ways to be careful while continuing to enjoy an active life.
Changes in Home Environment Help Prevent Falls
There are lessons, discussions and small group workshops on how to make home a safer place. Lighting, grab bars, clutter, and a number of other possible adaptations are covered in some detail. Folks are warned that procrastination may allow an accident situation. Students are also encouraged to involve another set of eyes to look for possible hazards, as it is easy to become used to things in our daily life without really realizing the danger they may pose.
Assistive Devices Help Seniors Avoid Falling
A variety of devices which can aid in preventing falls were discussed and demonstrated. Participants were encouraged to get past feelings of embarrassment in order to embrace the value of using these devices when needed. Some included:
Canes of assorted types;
Cell phones; and
Emergency necklace or bracelet which goes beyond the home and works just by pushing a button.
Ways Assertiveness Can Help Seniors Stay Safe
An issue many seniors may not have thought of is assertiveness as regards personal safety from falls. It may be time to be assertive just after a fall by insisting on staying calm, breathing, and evaluating the situation before letting anyone help.Make the proactive choice to get in the habit of moving slowly.
Communicate with family and friends your firm decision to stay active on your own terms. Yet be willing to ask for help when needed.
One of the most effective acts of assertiveness is to stay active. The group performed a weekly exercise program in order to raise fitness levels while getting in the habit of daily exercise. The camaraderie and encouragement of the group goes a long way toward influencing individuals to continue it after the class is over.
Seniors are encouraged to use a buddy system when taking a walk. However, if walking by yourself, be sure someone knows your route. Getting up too fast was discussed as an issue which may need to be discussed with a doctor.
The class was reminded to be watchful for tripping hazards like thresholds of doors, cement bumpers in parking lots, step-ups or step-downs, and the like. Increased awareness of these obstacles can reduce the incidence of such falls.
In general, seniors were warned to increase precautionary measures when outside of the daily comfort zones. This increased awareness can lead to prevention of incidents of imbalance.
Preventing falls is of vital importance to enjoyable senior living. The workshop “A Matter of Balance” makes a significant contribution to that end. Don Colacchio and his colleagues from the Broward YMCA have an effective way of showing the value in each senior’s life they touch. They help guide older adults deal with fears as they move toward safety, assertiveness, and changes in home and habits which can lead them to living a full life without falling.
Copyright Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print. Credit for photo: – wallyir (http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/670923)