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Column: Build confidence and reduce falls in program

11:32 AM, Jan. 25, 2013  |  Comments
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Frank is 79 years old, lives in his own home and enjoys driving to town twice a week to meet the guys for coffee and cards. He values his independence and his freedom to do what he wants, when he wants.

During the past year, Frank started to notice more difficulty in climbing the steps to his front door, and his balance was starting to get a little "off." He's tripping over things more often and even has taken a couple tumbles. Frank worries that one day he might fall and not be able to get back up and might risk losing the independence he values so much.

He noticed an ad in the newspaper for a class called Stepping On. The class said it will help participants identify why they fall and different ways to prevent falls, including strength and balance exercises, home safety check suggestions and information on managing medications. The class also was held right after he'd be playing cards with the guys.

He decided to try it. After attending the seven-week class, Frank noticed many benefits. It was easier for him to get in and out of his car, and he even felt stronger when climbing steps. He also learned tips for walking safer, even on snow and ice.

The exercises helped him gain some balance back. He feels more confident in doing yard work, walking to get the mail and even started taking fishing trips with his son again.

Frank also reunited with an old high school classmate that was also taking the program. The exercises and tips he learned in the program have helped Frank maintain his valued independence.

The Stepping On program covers a variety of topics including: simple and fun strength and balance exercises, the role vision plays in keeping your balance, how medications can contribute to falls, ways to stay safe when out and about in your community, what to look for in safe footwear and how to check your home for safety hazards.

Participants who can benefit from the program the most are those that are ages 60 or older, live in their own home or independent apartment, are able to walk without the help of another person, do not use a walker, scooter or wheelchair most of the time indoors, are cognitively intact and understand English. The program meets for two hours, one day per week for seven weeks. The program is free to any adult age 60 or older.

The Aging & Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin is offering the following Stepping On classes in the community. Registration is required by call Ciara at the ADRC-CW. 715-424-8468 or toll free at 888-486-9545.

? Ponderosa Apartments, Spencer; 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays, March 4 to April 15.

? Marshfield Fire & Rescue Department; 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, March 19 to April 30.

For more information on fall prevention, call the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin or the Wood County Falls Prevention Coalition at 888-486-9545.

Ciara Schultz is a community health educator for the Aging & Disability Resource Center of Central Wisconsin.

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