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IFC reminds Iowans that preventing falls helps maintain independence

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 11:36 a.m. CDT

DES MOINES — The Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition is reminding Iowans of the dangers of falling and that effective programs are available that may help older citizens lessen their chances of falling and thereby help them stay independent.

“As we celebrate our country’s independence, we should be mindful that maintaining one’s own independence is paramount to aging well and maintaining a quality of life that allows us to live and thrive in our communities,” said Barb McClintock, chair of the Iowa Falls Coalition.

Falls are the leading cause of injury death for Iowans age 65 and older, and the leading cause of injury hospitalizations and emergency visits in Iowa. In Iowa, the total charges for fall-related hospitalizations is approximately $92 million a year and the approximate costs of emergency room visits due to falls is $35 million a year.

Iowa communities offer programs that can help make older Iowans stronger, more balanced and less likely to fall. Two programs to consider are:

Matter of Balance: Emphasizes practical coping strategies to reduce the concern of falling and help older Iowans remain active and independent. The program consists of eight two-hour sessions led by a trained facilitator. During the class, participants learn to:

• View falls and fear of falling as controllable.

• Set realistic goals for increasing activity.

• Find ways to change the environment to reduce fall risk factors.

• Learn simple exercises to increase strength and balance.

Falling is not a natural part of aging and can be avoided by assessing your risk factors and making changes to your environment.

Enhanced Fitness: Is a low-cost, highly adaptable exercise program offering levels that are challenging enough for active older adults and levels that are safe enough for the unfit or near frail. One-hour group classes are led by a trained facilitator and include exercises such as: stretching, flexibility, balance, low-impact aerobics, and strength-training.

Nationally, it is estimated that, every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury. Statistics show that the chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.

For more information on fall prevention, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/FallPrevention/.

To find out more about the Matter of Balance and Enhanced Fitness classes available in your community, visit www.iowaaging.gov/healthy-lifestyles/fall-prevention.

The Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition is a collaborative initiative between government (Iowa Departments on Aging and Public Health), community and healthcare systems. Its mission is to reduce injuries by falls through public awareness and education on fall prevention.

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