Fall Prevention Classes Help Improve Quality of Life for Those Age 60+

Posted on January 10, 2024 at 6:00 am

Guest blog by Philip Helean

The Fear of Falling

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.

Even if there is no injury, falls carry a heavy impact to quality of life. Many older adults fear falling, and if the fear is intense, they may limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of hopelessness.

Ultimately, the fear of falling may lead to loss of independence.

In 2022, the number of fall-related fire department calls were:

  • 2,927 for the City of Spokane Fire Department
  • 3,200 for Spokane Valley Fire Department
  • 10,000+ for all of Spokane County

The following charts share recent rates of fall-related deaths among residents ages 65 and older, shown by county and over time for all of Washington state.

Bar graph showing rate of fall-related deaths by county among Washington state residents ages 65 and older from 2017 to 2021
Graph showing rate of fall-related deaths for Washington state residents ages 65 and older compared to all in US from 2000 to 2021

About A Matter of Balance Classes

A Matter Of Balance classes are designed for older adults who are concerned about falls.

You will learn the strategies you need to:

  • Change your viewpoint to see falls as controllable
  • Set realistic goals for increasing activity
  • Identify environmental adjustments to reduce risk factors
  • Understand how gentle movement can increase flexibility, strength, and balance

Classes are led by two trained volunteer coaches. Small groups of 8–12 participants meet for 8 sessions of group discussion, problem-solving, brainstorming, and “A Matter of Balance” exercises.

Each participant receives a workbook. Session 7 includes a visit from a guest health care professional who demonstrates how to get down on the ground safely, how to get up, and answers any medical questions related to falls you might have.

Also, the classes are free!

You can attend upcoming class sessions at a local library. Here are those dates and times:

A Matter of Balance: Preventing Falls
For adults

Registration is required. Sign up starting January 29 on the library’s event calendar.

Mondays & Wednesdays, Feb 26–Mar 20, 1–3pm
Tuesdays & Thursdays, Apr 9–May 2, 1–3pm

Tuesdays & Thursdays, Feb 27–Mar 26, 10am–12pm (except Mar 14)
Mondays & Wednesdays, Apr 8–May 1, 10am–12pm

Tuesdays & Thursdays, Mar 5–Mar 28, 1:30–3:30pm

Tuesdays & Thursdays, Apr 9–May 2, 1–3pm

Mondays & Wednesdays, Apr 15–May 8, 10:30am–12:30pm

Who Should Attend

A Matter of Balance classes are for older adults who are concerned about falls. In some cases, some may have sustained a fall in the past or have restricted activities because of concerns about falling.

The classes are also for those who want to improve their flexibility, balance, and strength. Participants need to be 60 or older, mobile (with or without the use of an assistive device such as a cane or a walker), and able to problem solve.

Does A Matter of Balance sound like something you or someone you know may be interested in? If so, I hope you sign up for one of the classes at the library.

If you have questions about the class or can’t attend any of the dates above, you can give me a call at 509.777.1571 or call the Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW) office at 509.458.2509.

After Completing the Class

  • 97% of participants are more comfortable talking about the fear of falling.
  • 97% of participants feel more comfortable increasing activity.
  • 98% of participants would recommend A Matter of Balance to others.
  • 99% of participants plan to continue exercising.

Here are what some participants have said after completing the class:

“I seem to be more aware in every situation for my safety. I now ‘Stop, Look, and Listen’ to my surroundings.”

“I am already noticing a difference in my physical being. I plan to continue these exercises. Hopefully, I’ll be jumping over the moon soon.”

The FallsTalk™ Program

Another program that may work for you is FallsTalk, a series of one‐on‐one weekly phone calls, each no more than an hour, with a trained facilitator. The program helps you explore ideas and options to reduce your losses of balance and risk of falls.

During the sessions, you discuss your recent experience with falls and losses of balance, become more aware of your own balance issues, and explore your ideas for preventing falls.

Within 6 weeks, you will have a personalized plan for reducing falls and learn a proven way to reduce your risk of falling in the future.

FallsTalk may be beneficial to you if:

  • You are 60+ years old.
  • You have fallen in the past year.
  • You experience losses of balance.
  • You have been injured from falling.
  • You are concerned about falls.

FallsTalk is only available to residents of Spokane County at this time.

If FallsTalk sounds like something you or someone you know may be interested in, give the ALTCEW office a call at 509.458.2509 with your questions or to enroll.

Volunteer Coaches Needed

You can help!

There’s a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing you’ve made a profound impact on someone’s life. Volunteer coaches can make the difference between social isolation and independence for seniors.

Do you have an interest in working with older adults? Do you have good communication and people skills? Contact ALTCEW to learn more about the training program to become a coach by calling 509.458.2509 or visiting the Aging and Long Term Care of Eastern Washington website. There is no charge for the training program.

Philip Helean, falls prevention educator for Aging & Long Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW)

Philip J Helean is a falls prevention educator for Aging & Long Term Care of Eastern Washington (ALTCEW) and a master trainer for “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls,” an evidence based program developed at Boston University. He is also trained to facilitate FallsTalk Behavioral Training & Falls Prevention Intervention sessions. Philip is a life-long resident of Spokane. He is married with three grown children and two grandchildren. He enjoys spending time with family, hiking, golfing, taking road trips, and attending fitness classes.

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