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Your Healthy Family: Retaining balance is key for seniors to avoid debilitating falls

Posted at 10:55 AM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-11 13:22:26-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – In this Your Healthy Family we’re watching out for seniors who may be at risk of falling and not even know it. Suffering even a simple fall as we age can be extremely dangerous and can lead to early death or at least serious injuries requiring hospital visits.

Lori Morgan is the injury prevention specialist with UCHealth Memorial.  Lori teaches a class in fall prevention strategies.  “What can happen is they can fall and fracture a hip, or hit their head and have a traumatic brain injury.  Those kinds of injuries can be devastating and people can end up in a nursing home and their quality of life can really be reduced.”

Knowing the risks and being proactive in preventing falls is the core fall prevention for seniors.  It’s important they understand how their bodies are changing and new ways they need to look at their environments.

Exercise is one important factor in helping to avoid falls.  A recent study published in JAMA from The Oregon Research Institute and Shanghai University showed that one way for seniors to retain their balance is a form of martial arts, called Tai Chi.  Seniors in the study reduced falls by 58% compared to the control group. All study participants had a history of falls or impaired mobility.

If martial arts are not your thing when it comes to exercise, there are other basic exercises that can also improve core strength and help seniors retain their balance.

UCHealth has been offering a community class, which we first told you about in Your Health Family over 2 years ago called Stepping ON.  Stepping ON began in Australia to teach seniors skills they may not develop on their own.

Lori explains, “We have physical therapists that are teaching the class with us, balance and strengthening exercises are the core of stepping on.  We also give them strategies to prevent falling like making sure they have good shoes and that they are scanning an area (for hazards) before they walk to an area.”

If you’re interested in learning more about fall prevention, a Steppin ON class just started in Colorado Springs this week and you may still be able to join it.  Lori says the next class will be coming in early 2019. You can call Lori at (719) 365-2872, or email her at  Lori.Morgan2@uchealth.org for more information.

UCHealth Memorial is a proud sponsor of Your Health Family