Empowering seniors to stay safe and healthy

Posted Oct. 18, 2012, at 10:19 a.m.
Dirigo Pines Retirement Community resident Cynthia Ellis lives independently and safely partly due to A Matter of Balance, a program offered through the Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Health and safety will be the focus of an expo held on Oct. 25 at Spectacular Event Center.
Dirigo Pines Retirement Community resident Cynthia Ellis lives independently and safely partly due to A Matter of Balance, a program offered through the Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Health and safety will be the focus of an expo held on Oct. 25 at Spectacular Event Center.

Dirigo Pines Retirement Community resident Cynthia Ellis remembers that when she started falling more often, she didn’t like it. So when she learned about the Matter of Balance program offered through Eastern Area Agency on Aging, she took control.

And the Orono resident, now in her 90s, says it was a smart decision.

The Matter of Balance program was offered to Ellis and other seniors at Dirigo Pines. Similar programs are offered throughout the area. It is an eight week program that teaches seniors how to prevent falls.

According to EAAA, “fear of falling can keep seniors from being as active as they would like to be, which reduces muscle strength and can actually increase the risk of falls.”

However, Ellis learned how to make her home environment fall free.

“A large part of the program at first was [teaching us how to] be sure our home was fall proof,” she said. “For instance, no scatter rugs and no visible obstacles. Another [tip] was to be careful and watch where you’re going.”

In fact, the program gave Ellis the confidence to be safe while living independently.

“It gave me a watchfulness,” she said. “The more aware you are, you can be careful without being fearful.”

Programs like A Matter of Balance empower seniors to live independently and safely. On October 25, EAAA will host its second annual Senior Health and Safety Fair from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at Spectacular Events Center on the Griffin Road in Bangor. This fair will expand on the annual Senior Expo held each spring, said Carol Higgins-Taylor, EAAA communications director.

The expo is sponsored by Winterberry Heights Assisted Living and AARP Maine.

“This health and safety fair is like a fall tune-up for our seniors,” Higgins-Taylor said. “There will be health screenings and falls assessments [in addition to] flu shots. And it’s Medicare Part D season, so seniors will be able to sign up for their card.”

On the safety end, the Old Town fire hazard house will be on site to educate attendees on the ins and outs of fire safety while the Maine Emergency Management Association will provide the first 500 visitors with disaster preparedness starter kits and guides to prepare for a major emergency. Penobscot County Triad will have its Drug Drop-Off Box on site to allow attendees to deposit expired medications.

“This expo is different than the senior expo because of its focused nature,” Higgins-Taylor said. “And it promises to be a great time.”

For more information, contact EAAA at (800) 432-7812.

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