Volunteer coaches needed for balance classes

Posted Oct. 08, 2008, at 7:14 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 3:25 a.m.

Many seniors live with the fear of falling, which can be almost as dangerous as falling itself — just in a different way.

Those who develop this fear often limit their activities, resulting in physical de-conditioning, making the risk of falling even greater. It is a vicious cycle.

The less active you are in the hopes of preventing a fall, the more likely you are to take a tumble because your muscles have lost some strength.

Also, many older adults experience increased isolation and depression when they limit their interactions with family and friends. Imagine not going to church, or lunch with a friend, or grandchildren’s birthday parties. A Matter of Balance classes can help people improve their quality of life and remain independent.

The course is held in eight two-hour sessions, once a week for eight weeks or twice a week for four weeks, depending on the coach.

Here is what to expect from the classes:

• You will start to view falls and fear of falling as controllable.

• You will be guided to set realistic goals for increasing activity.

• You will learn how to change your home environment to reduce fall risk factors such as removing area or scatter rugs.

• You will perform exercises that will increase strength and balance.

All of this will be accomplished through group discussion, problem solving with each other, role-playing and skill building, assertiveness training, exercise training, watching videotapes and investigating practical solutions to your concerns regarding falls.

This class is beneficial to anyone who is 60 or older, is concerned about falls, has had a fall in the past, is restricting activities because of concerns about falling or is interested in improving flexibility, balance and strength.

The only requirement, other than being at least 60 years of age, is that you must be able to move around by yourself, even if you need a little help from a walker.

“The classes are designed for groups of 10 to 12 participants,” said Val Sauda, director of community services at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. “The curriculum includes video-tapes, lectures, group discussions, problem solving, role-playing, exercise training, assertiveness training and home assignments. It is really comprehensive. And we really need people to help us with the classes so we can continue to provide them. Currently we are short of coaches.”

Sound like fun?

If you like people, are organized and looking for a volunteer opportunity where you can really make a difference, give us a call. In no time, people may be calling you “Coach.”

“These volunteer coaches receive training, then lead the classes,” said Sauda. “The reward is tremendous just knowing that they have helped an older person reduce their fear and risk of falling.”

And the lessons learned can last a lifetime, keeping the senior independent longer.

We are looking for people who have good communication and interpersonal skills, who are enthusiastic and enjoy working with older adults in small groups to teach the course.

“This program acknowledges seniors’ fear of falling, but uses practical, everyday solutions to help them overcome it,” said Sauda. “Some of the aspects of the program, along with increased activity, are reducing risk factors and tripping hazards at home, ways to gain strength and viewing falls differently, such as a controllable thing.”

The next training for A Matter of Balance coaches will be held 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, at Eastern Area Agency on Aging, 450 Essex St., Bangor. Call us if you would like to help seniors improve their quality of life and reduce their fears.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. E-mail Higgins Taylor at chtay-lor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free (800) 432-7812, e-mail info@eaaa.org or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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