Preventing falls Step by Step

Posted Sept. 24, 2013, at 11:23 a.m.

Senior Beat

by Carol Higgins Taylor

Eastern Area Agency on Aging

 

I have long advised that seniors be mindful of the adage, “If it seems too good to be true,

it probably is.” However, sometimes there are pleasant surprises in life and you actually can get

something of need for nothing. There is a free ride after all. And Eastern Area Agency on Aging

is in the driver’s seat as part of the Step by Step collation, whose aim is to keep seniors firmly

planted on two feet.

Step by Step consists of three steps.

Step 1: Falls risk assessment which assess seniors and determines their risk for falling through a series of short agility activities.

Step 2: The Matter of Balance class which is designed to increase seniors’ balance.

Step 3: Bone Builders which is a six-month course that increases the class participants’ strength through the use of weights.

“The Step by Step program was designed to prevent falls in older adults through balance

screening, education and exercise. Seniors can do all of the steps or just one. It’s their choice,”

said Dyan Walsh, director of community services at EAAA.

To further this mission, EAAA has secured a grant that may help seniors, even if a bit wobbly, stay at home as long as possible.

Sometime a few little fixes can make all the difference.

It is sad to report that experiencing a fall remains one of the major predictors of seniors having to move to a long-term care institution. This is why it is so critical that their homes are free of tripping hazards that could result in a devastating fall.

There are three goals foir the grant, said Walsh.

The first goal is to do a balance test on seniors who are homebound. They also will be offered an in-home safety checklist and minor home modifications if necessary, such as installing grab bars, railings on stairs or having steps repaired. EAAA’s EZ Fix minor home repair program will do this work.

If it’s determined the senior could benefit from a Matter of Balance or Bone Builders class but doesn’t have transportation, Step by Step will provide it when possible.

Goal two is to rescreen individuals who previously had a falls risk assessment, to see if they’ve reduced their fall risk by following some of the recommendations and tips that were shared after the first assessment.

And goal three is to better track these seniors across agency lines to ensure they don’t disappear through the cracks and that they continue to get the help they need.

Actually, there are four goals. The fourth and final is to keep you in your home safely for as long as you wish to be there. We got a grant specifically to do just that so if you live in Penobscot or Hancock counties, are 60 years of age or older, are homebound and would like to have an in-home balance test, a home safety check and get some safety repairs to help prevent a fall, call Eastern Area Agency on Aging.

Did I mention this is all free? Free balance test, classes and the home modification of installing grab bars, railings and fixing whatever may be seen as a tripping hazard.

“It would be a tragedy if someone fell because they needed a grab bar or a sturdy railing and didn’t have one,” said Walsh. “We got this grant to try to ensure these events don’t happen.

We are a hundred percent committed to preventing falls and keeping seniors in their homes.”

 

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. For

information, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, or go to EAAA.org.

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