Last week was National Falls Prevention Awareness Week, which occurs annually. As summer wraps up, a change in the seasons brings changes in the weather, some of which can significantly affect our ability to safely move around.
Falling, in particular, can have serious consequences. According to the National Council on Aging, one in four Americans over 65 falls every year, and falling is the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in older Americans. Fortunately, there are things you can do, and the Council draws attention to them each year with its annual Fall Prevention Awareness Day, celebrated on the first day of fall.
Touchmark provides a variety of fitness and wellness activities, classes, and programming that aim to improve balance and walking confidence as well as reduce the likelihood of falling. One example is a Fall Prevention Class series at Touchmark on South Hill that kicked off last week and lasts through the end of October.
Touchmark on South Hill resident Richard (Dick) Pruett is 76 years old and could be considered the ‘poster boy’ for the fall classes. Pruett, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008, has undergone three brain surgeries. Since taking Touchmark’s fitness classes, like Parkinson’s Move and Shout and FunFlex, he has advanced from needing a walker to using a cane to walking the grounds of Touchmark without assistance. (He’ll only use his cane now when he’s walking in unfamiliar territory.)
Pruett said before moving to Spokane, and after his Parkinson’s diagnosis, he had three falls. He considers himself fortunate he wasn’t injured but understands the fear. After taking the Touchmark classes, Pruett said he now feels more confident moving around.
He attributes the classes to giving him realistic goals to increase his activity and exercises that have aided him in improving his strength and balance. “They have given me the tools to walk confidently without fear of falling, and I’m enjoying taking the Fall Prevention classes.”
Fall Prevention class participants are taught to view falls and the fear of falling as something they can have some control over. Adding to the quality of life for seniors can mean a literal matter of balance.
If you or a loved one is noticing changes in balance, gait, or walking, now is the time to look into resources available to maintain or improve ability. We encourage anyone age 50 or older to contact your local Touchmark community to learn more about how we can help.