Fall is the Perfect Time to Better Your Balance With a Fall Prevention Program

Fall Prevention Day

(BINGHAMTON, NY) – September 22nd is the first day of fall and also marks National Fall Prevention Day. The Broome County Health Department and several other community partners are joining the National Council on Aging and 46 other states in the theme of “Standing Together” to prevent falls and provide opportunities for older adults to participate in fall prevention programs around Broome County.

The National Council on Aging states that every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an Emergency Deparament for a fall-related injury.  Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those aged 65 and over.  Moreover, the chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.
Additionally, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in older adults, accounting for 46% of fatal falls among seniors. Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls including 90% of hip fractures.
Administration on Aging reports $28.2 billion a year is spent annually on treating older adults for the effects of falls. The average hospital stay for a hip fracture is one week; 25% of those suffering a hip fracture will need to stay in a nursing home for at least a year, with most of these significant costs typically paid by Medicaid. The National Council on Aging states that one hip fracture fall may cost up to approximately $60,000.  
According to recent population estimates 16.7% of Broome County are 65 years or older. A rate that is higher than both the New York State (NYS) rate of 13.4% and the national rate of 12.8%. This translates to one in five residents being age 60 and older. Over 40% of Broome County seniors are 75+ and the fastest growing population in Broome County is age 85+.  The Broome County Community Health Assessment (CHA) from 2004-2006 revealed a notably higher fall related  hospitalization rate for age 65+ in Broome County in: 293.4/10,000. The NYS Prevention Agenda set by the New York State Department of Health suggests reducing the fall related hospitalization rate among persons aged 65 and over in New York to no more than 155 per 10,000, by 2013.
In response to this trend, the Broome County Health Department, the Broome County Office for Aging and the Broome County YMCA have been working together; in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on a national Fall Prevention project that provides adults 65 and older with the opportunity to participate in different community fall prevention programs, focused on improving functional ability (balance, physical function) and, consequently, reduces fall-related risks and falls frequency. The local project is called Better Balance for Broome.
“Broome County has an aging population and it’s critical that our seniors have access to activities and parks for exercise and recreation,” said Broome County Executive Debbie Preston. “Programs like Tai Chi keep our seniors active and help prevent falling and hospitalization.  Steps can be taken to prevent falling and it’s important that we recognize these important programs that offer our seniors an opportunity to prolong their active years in an enjoyable setting.”
One of the Better Balance for Broome fall prevention programs is called Stepping On. Stepping On is a program for adults ages 65 and older who are:
  • at risk of falling,
  • have a fear of falling, or
  • have fallen one or more times.
Stepping On is designed to empower older adults to carry out health behaviors that reduce the risks of falls, improve self-management, and increase quality of life. Classes are highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health behaviors that reduce the risk of falls to maintain active and fulfilling lives. Topics covered throughout the 7 week period include: improving balance and strength; home and community safety; vision; safe footwear; and medication review. There will be two classes starting in September:
  1. The Highlands Community Center, 725 Lee Circle, Johnson City. It is from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. every Wednesday from 9/5/12- 10/17/12.
  2. The Jewish Community Center, 500 Clubhouse Rd., Vestal. It is from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. every Thursday from 9/13/12 - 10/25/12.
Space is limited and the classes are filling up quickly. To sign up for Stepping On, please contact Master Trainers: Diane LeFever at 607.757.0750 or Donna Gavula at 607.648.9420.

“No matter how old, adults should have the tools necessary for preventing falls. We are fortunate to have community partnerships and programs that extend the reach of public health in order to maximize fall prevention and health promotion,” remarks Claudia Edwards, Broome County Public Health Director. 
In addition to Stepping On, the Broome County YMCA in partnership with the Broome County Health Department and Broome County Office for Aging will be kicking off a Tai Chi class, starting September 4, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. at the Johnson City YMCA. Classes are open to adults ages 65 and over who can walk with ease with or without assistive devices. Classes will be held at the Johnson City YMCA for 12 consecutive weeks and will meet Tuesday’s and Thursday’s starting Tuesday, September 4, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. To sign up for Tai Chi please contact Sue Stella at 607.770.9622, ext. 130.
Tai Chi is a graceful form of martial arts that has been tailored specifically for older adults and uses slow precise movements that can help them stay fit, reduce falls and some chronic diseases.   Research done in several countries has shown that Tai Chi can reduce the risk of falling up to 55% and assists with improving arthritis, high blood pressure, poor balance, stress, and sleep patterns.
Older adults and their families are encouraged to learn more about fall prevention and how to participate in fall prevention programs. For more information about the Better Balance for Broome Program: Tai Chi or the Stepping On Programs, contact Mary McFadden at 607.778.3929 or by email at mmcfadden@co.broome.ny.us.
For more information about fall prevention visit these websites: 
08/30/2012 - 1:54pm