Better Balance Programs Bloom in Broome for Older Adults
BINGHAMTON, NY - The National Council on Aging states that every hour 205 older adults will fall, 49 will be hospitalized, 34 will fracture a hip and 2 will die. In the past year, Pope Benedict XVI and Hillary Clinton both sustained broken bones after unexpected falls. It is likely we will continue to see more unintentional injuries to older adults as a result of unexpected falls. Falling is a major threat to the health and independence of older adults. According to recent population estimates, 16.7% of Broome County are 65 years or older. A rate that is higher than both the New York State (NYS) rate of 13.4% and the national rate of 12.8%. This translates to one in five residents being age 60 and older. Over 40% of Broome County seniors are 75+ and the fastest growing population in Broome County is age 85+. In response to this trend, the Broome County Health Department and the Broome County Office for Aging are looking to help older adults remain living in their own home and maintain a high quality of life and health as long as possible by offering programs that will help to prevent falls from happening.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of injury related deaths for older adults and most common cause of nonfatal injuries and trauma hospitalizations. National data suggests that fall-related deaths among older adults have risen significantly over the past decade. In Broome County, the local Community Health Assessment data revealed a notably higher fall related hospitalization rate for people age 65+ in Broome County. Broome County’s fall related hospitalization rate of 293.4 per 10,000 persons, is significantly higher than the NYS fall hospitalization rate of 253.7 per 10,000 persons. The NYS Prevention Agenda set by the New York State Department of Health Commissioner suggests reducing the fall related hospitalization rate among persons aged 65 and over in New York to no more than 155 per 10,000, by 2013.
Other fall related facts include; men are more likely to die from a fall, however, women are 67% more likely than men to have a nonfatal fall injury. The rates of fall-related fractures among older adults are more than twice as high for women as for men. Both men and women who fall, even those who are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them not conduct routine activities, leading to reduced mobility and physical activity, which actually increases the risk of falling due to weaker bone and muscles mass. The risk of falling does increase with age and especially after age 75. White women have higher rates of fall related hip fractures than African American women. The CDC estimates that the direct cost of falls in 2000 was $179 million for fatal falls and $19 billion for nonfatal fall injuries. The National Council on Aging states that one hip fracture fall will cost approximately $60,000.
To assist with decreasing the physical and social risks along with the medical costs of falling, the Broome County Health Department and the Broome County Office for Aging, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are excited to announce that Broome County has been selected to participate in a National Falls Prevention project. The project will offer adults 65 and older the opportunity to participate in two different free programs focused on improving functional ability (balance, physical function), and will, consequently, reduce fall-related risks and fall frequency.
The first program offered is Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance. Tai Chi is a graceful form of martial arts that has been tailored specifically for older adults and uses slow precise movements that can help them stay fit, reduce falls and some chronic diseases. Research done in several countries has shown that Tai Chi can reduce the risk of falling up to 55% and assists with improving arthritis, high blood pressure, poor balance, stress, and sleep patterns.
Classes are open to adults ages 65 and over who can walk with ease with or with out assistive devices. Classes will be held at the Floyd L. Maines Conklin Community Center, 942 Conklin Road, Conklin, NY, for 12 consecutive weeks and will meet twice a week; 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, and 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Fridays. The first class is scheduled to begin April 21, 2010. Participants should be able to commit to the 12 week time frame to be considered.
The second program is a research based program called Stepping On which is a program for adults ages 65 and older who are: at risk of falling, have a fear of falling, or who have fallen one or more times. Stepping On is designed to empower older adults to carry out health behaviors that reduce the risks of falls, improve self-management, and increase quality of life. Classes have not been scheduled at this time, but will be announced shortly. Classes will be highly participative, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their health behaviors that reduce the risk of falls to maintain active and fulfilling lives. Topics covered throughout the 7 week period include: improving balance and strength; home and community safety; vision; safe footwear; and medication review.
Both programs have officially trained leaders who will conduct the classes.
Recruitment for the Tai Chi classes is underway and filling up quickly, interested individuals should contact Mary McFadden at the Broome County Health Department at
778- 3929, or Sara Gdovin at the Broome County Office for Aging at 778-2411. More detailed information on the Stepping Onprogram will be released soon.
Another balance program offered through the Broome County Office for Aging is supported by a National Office for Aging grant called A Matter of Balance. The program isdesigned to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults. A Matter of Balance is an 8 session program that can meet once or twice per week for 2 hours at a time. There is no charge for this program, participants receive a handbook and refreshments are provided. Please contact the Broome County Office for Aging at 778-2411 for more information on class dates and times.