We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
—George Bernard Shaw
We mentioned a few months ago that we were introducing A Matter of Balance, a set of eight weekly, two-hour workshops in our San Antonio headquarters that help older, deaf adults reduce their fear of falling and increase activity levels. The class met with such success and spurred so many requests for a repeat run that we want to let everyone know another iteration of it is already in the planning stages.
We wanted to share some tips for readers who you missed the workshop:
Falling can be a quite serious thing, especially for older people (age 65 and up). According to the CDC, one out of five falls among older people causes a serious injury, and each year over 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. The direct medical cost for falls among older people is $31 billion annually. Falls are not only the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries, but more than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling, too.
But despite all that, perhaps the most insidious thing about falls among older people is the fear of falls that so many older people have. A vicious cycle sets in where frailty and age encourages fear, but the fear itself is so disabling that it dramatically reduces mobility—and that, in turn, makes older people even more vulnerable. The thinking follows a certain predictable logic: If I fall, I could hurt myself, and since I’m scared of that, I might as well just stay inside and never go out. But, staying inside can be crippling both emotionally and physically, too.
The Best Treatment is Prevention
A Matter of Balance addresses this cycle honestly and straightforwardly, and helps older, deaf adults break out of it. The workshops emphasize practical suggestions to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels in older adults who want to be more active. The program emphasizes practical coping strategies to lower fears of falling, and teaches that falls and the fear of falling can be controllable – and sometimes prevented. Participants learned to view falls as controllable, set realistic goals, changed their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and performed range of motion exercises to increase strength and balance. Each two-hour workshop session focuses on a specific topic such as mobility issues, balance problems, the difficulties of multiple medications, home hazards, strength deficits and reasonable exercise goals.
Whether it’s dancing, Zumba, yoga, swimming or a gym membership, the workshops emphasized that it is never too late to start an exercise program! The benefits of exercise are many, besides fall reduction, other benefits include cognitive and overall health gains and stress reduction. Plan for your workout routine in advance, whether that’s using an assistive device, better lighting or help from a friend. Make sure you are educated on potential hazards to prevent falls. By being well educated about falls, you can change your mind set about worrying during workouts. Falling does not have to become part of the aging process or take away from an active lifestyle.
The first course was taught during January and February by John Weber, our VP and COO, and Larry Johnson, motivational speaker and author. Larry, who has been blind since birth, is a great example of someone overcoming obstacles to be successful. DIS provided sign language interpreters and snacks for every class—and certainly will again when we schedule the next set of workshops!
If you’d like more information about when the next class will be available and how to register, email Crystal Tower at firstname.lastname@example.org or give our office a ring at 210-888-0039. We’ll put you on the list and let you know the scheduled dates as soon as they’re set. Hope to see you there!
*This class was presented in conjunction with Alamo Area Council of Governments and the Texas Aging and Disability.