Program to help seniors prevent falling

Staff writer

One in three people over 65 will risk injury and even death from falling, Department on Aging Director Gayla Ratzlaff said.

“People have the impression that when you get older, the aging process makes you fall,” she said. “If you keep yourself active and do some preventative kinds of things, your chances of falling are decreased.”

To help seniors prevent this, Ratzlaff and volunteer Barb Smith will co-lead a seven-week fall prevention program for those 60 and older who have fallen or are afraid of falling.

“It helps attitude, and people with problems get a chance to share and remember they’re not the only ones with this problem,” Smith said. “By going to a fall class, you find out how important preventing any fall is, because the results can be long-lasting and serious.

Smith said people often break a hip in a fall.

Ratzlaff said falling has a lot to do with strength and balance, because an individual will often lose their balance, lacking the strength to get back up.

Part of the class will teach eight different exercises, half dealing with balance, and the other half with strength.

“There are a lot of older people I know who do a lot of exercises, who do walking or something like that, and that’s great,” Ratzlaff said. “You have to keep that, but also as you get older, you begin to lose strength and you begin to lose balance unless you work on those kinds of things.”

Amber Monson, a physical therapist at Hillsboro Community Hospital, will teach the exercises. Eric Driggers from Greenhaw Pharmacy will answer questions about medications and what effects they can have on falling.

The program will last from 2 to 4 p.m. every Thursday at the Hillsboro Community Hospital conference room, at $10 apiece. Participants also will receive a 5-pound weight upon payment.

“They usually learn from each other as well as from us,” Smith said. “It’s very important for elders to stay social. It’s important for their mental health.”

“That’s what this class is about,” Ratzlaff said. “To help people look at things they haven’t thought about before, in regards to what might be in their everyday environment that might make them fall.”

 

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