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Your Healthy Family: UCHealth fall prevention class still important during pandemic

Posted at 12:47 PM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 14:47:21-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — It's well-known that older members of the population are at a higher risk for more severe cases of COVID-19. But even in the midst of a pandemic, it’s important to remember that seniors are also at high risk for falls, which can cause serious and life-threatening injuries that could land them in the hospital.

Lori Morgan, an injury prevention specialist with UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, says it’s important seniors know how to protect themselves from falls. “Falls are probably the biggest mechanism of injury across a lifespan. If I'm 30 or 40 and I fall, I'll probably get over it fairly quickly. If I'm 60 or 70 or older and I fall, I could break a hip and that can be devastating I could end up in a nursing home, I could end up dying.”

Just as people need to use caution to avoid contracting or spreading coronavirus, seniors need to understand the hazards that can cause a fall, and use caution simply getting around on a daily basis.

“People have issues with balance; just because we have a pandemic that doesn't mean people aren't still falling,” Morgan said. “We need to continue to serve our senior population, and we need to continue to provide this service for people that need it.”

Morgan teaches a “Stepping On” class, where participants learn about common fall hazards in and outside of the home, safer footwear, the roles that vision and medication can play in causing falls and basic exercises that improve strength and balance, all to a target audience that is 60 and older.

She says the nature of the target audience in the midst of a pandemic means extra precautions are in place for Stepping On classes she is leading now. “We've got a vulnerable population and these older adults are at a higher risk for getting COVID-19. Right now we have to mask up, socially distance and disinfect all the surfaces. We have to provide individual equipment examples, so we're not touching things and handing them around the room for show and tell like we normally do. We're still learning the concepts of the balance and strength exercises. Our guest experts are still able to come, wear their masks and provide valuable information to the class as well.”

Just as wearing a mask and social distancing provides a measure of prevention of getting or spreading COVID-19, the Stepping On classes can prevent drastic changes in someone's quality of life in their golden years because of a fall.

Lori says, “We have a lot of different mechanisms of traumatic injuries that we see, but falls are the number one reason we see people coming into our hospital. It always has been and always will be - year after year - and it’s a mechanism of injury that is totally preventable. That's why coming to a class like Stepping On is important. You can learn the strategies to prevent falls from happening.”

If you are interested in more information about attending this free class from UCHealth, or you know someone 60 or older who lives alone or is afraid of suffering a fall or falling again, you can get more information and learn when the next round of free Stepping On fall prevention classes will be happening. To sign up, simple reach out to Lori Morgan.

You can E-mail Morgan at injuryprevention@uchealth.org or call her at 719-365-2872.

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