June 21, 2018
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Falls Prevention Fair can help seniors remain upright

By Roxanne Moore Saucier, BDN Columnist

Time goes by way too fast. It’s hard to believe that next Friday, Sept. 23, is Falls Prevention Awareness Day, perfectly coordinated with the seasonal first day of fall. What better day to hold a fair on preventing falls?

We decided to take seniors into a new season with a new confidence about reducing their risk of falls.

“It is startling to think that more than one-third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States,” said Dyan Walsh, director of community services at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. “That is an eye-opening statistic, so as a way to help educate seniors about how to reduce their falls risk, Congress instituted Falls Prevention Awareness Day.”

This is cause for a celebration, with screenings and education and healthful refreshments thrown in for good measure, so we hope you will join us for our Falls Prevention Fair, to be held 9 a.m.-noon Friday, Sept. 23, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 639 Grandview Ave., near the corner of Essex Street in Bangor.

You also may take part in Falls-Risk Assessments offered by volunteers who have been trained by Husson University’s physical therapy department.

“Falls risk screenings are intended to provide people with an individual assessment that can help them make practical changes in their lives to reduce their risk of falling,” said Walsh. “All of this information is gathered, and people are then given a tangible report that outlines their individual falls risk based on the five factors.”

So what happens during an assessment?

First off, the volunteer will take a history from you regarding previous falls because if you’ve experienced a fall in the past, you have an increased risk of falling again.

Then, the volunteer will take a look at your medications, as some can cause dizziness, so bring the list with you.

You will be asked questions about your home environment. For instance, are there tripping hazards such as throw rugs, clutter and obstructed pathways?

You will be given a vision test to determine how well you can see your surroundings. After all, poor eyesight can contribute to a fall.

Then there is a “reach test,” conducted with a volunteer standing in front of you while you reach out as far as you possibly can without losing your balance.

Finally, you will take the “stand up and walk test.” A volunteer will assess how long it takes you to stand up from a chair and walk a predetermined distance. The longer it takes to complete the test, the higher your risk of a fall.

Representatives of the University of Maine Center on Aging RSVP will be on hand with important information on their Bone Builders program, in which seniors gain strength through lifting weights. The UMaine Cooperative Extension Senior Companion Program will distribute information on Matter of Balance classes. Gentiva Home Health will explain its services, including Safe Strides, a falls prevention program done in seniors’ homes.

The Penobscot County Triad’s Drug Drop-Off box will be available, so bring all of your expired or unnecessary medications to be disposed of properly. It is important to get these medications out of your home.

In addition, Penobscot Community Health Care will provide blood pressure checks and glucose testing.

The Falls Prevention Fair is free and open to all. There will be delicious and healthy refreshments served courtesy of Gentiva.

If you would like to have an assessment, call 800-432-7812 to register by Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Ask for Karyn Grass. Space is limited for falls risk assessments, so call today.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging. Email Higgins Taylor at chtaylor@eaaa.org. For information on EAAA, call 941-2865, toll-free 800-432-7812, email info@eaaa.org or log on EAAA.org. TTY 992-0150.

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