With that in mind, a pilot “Stepping on Fall,” fall prevention class will start Oct. 13, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., for seven weeks. The free class will be offered at the North Davis Senior Activity Center, 42 S. State Street, Clearfield.
The class is intended for those aged 65 and older, but is open to “anyone at risk,” said Sally Kershisnik, director of the Senior and Family Services Division, Davis County Health Department.
Topics covered will include home hazards, medication management, bone health, safety and footwear, with a physical therapist on hand during several sessions.
A vision professional and pharmacist will also attend some sessions.
Follow up will be an important part of the program, said health educator Chris Bateman. There will be a “booster session” three months after the class ends and telephone contact six months later.
“Seniors can determine the issues and approaches, make the class personally relevant,” he said. “It’s a challenge to appreciate the risk, plus to get knowledge of safety practices.”
Options and barriers to implementing safety strategies will be discussed, along with exercise, including both balancing and strength exercises using light weights, Bateman said.
During the first session, attendees will be asked to share their “fall stories,” he said, emphasizing the belief in the class that “falls can be prevented.”
The class is based on a program developed by the University of Sydney, Australia. The program has been implemented in the United Kingdom and the United States, with Wisconsin the lead state for training.
In Utah, Utah County has received the training and is serving as a resource to other entities. The Utah Department of Health claims falls can be reduced by nearly one-third for those participating in such a class.
“We hope to eventually do this at all of the senior activity centers,” Bateman said of the class, with the county’s two hospitals and senior care facilities also expressing interest.
“Strength and balance are probably two of the most important things to address with falls,” Kershisnik said.
People who have fallen still can be mobile and the class will try to instill they can continue with active lives, she said.
“After one fall, people are more hesitant and fearful,” she said. “It’s to prevent people from sitting home” because they are afraid of falling, the director added.
Fall-related myths need to be “debunked,” Bateman said. For example, one in three older adults fall each year. Falling is not a normal part of aging. It can be prevented through exercise, medication and vision checkups.
In addition, while some muscle strength is lost, much can be regained or maintained through exercise. Walking aids can be useful and shouldn’t be looked at as making a person more dependent.
The presentation on the program was made to the Davis County Senior Services Advisory Board, recently.
Registration for the class is required. For more information or to sign up, call Jessica Hardcastle at 801-525-5087.