Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls In 2016

September 22 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day and the Greater Scranton & Wilkes-Barre Family YMCAs are joining the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Falls Free Coalition for Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls in 2016, a day of action to help raise awareness and prevention of falls in the Scranton and Wilkes-Barre communities.

Each year, it’s estimated that one out of three Americans aged 65 or older will suffer a fall, leaving many of these adults with a fear of falling that can cause them to limit physical activities. This leads to reduced mobility and diminished quality of life, and actually increases their risk of falling. In addition, as the population ages falls put an immense strain on the health care system, with the financial toll expected to reach $67.7 billion by 2020. The good news is that falls are preventable. With a focus on healthy aging, the Y is committed to helping older adults learn their fall risk and access programs that can help them reduce their risk for falls.

“As a leading community-based organization dedicated to building a culture of health for all families, the Y is asking older adults, caregivers, family members and health care professionals to raise awareness and prevent falls in the older adult population,” said Meghan Carnevale, Mission Advancement & Marketing Director, Greater Scranton & Wilkes-Barre Family YMCAs. “Falls are preventable, but when an older adult falls, it not only affects the individual but negatively impacts our families and communities.”

The first step to prevention is understanding risk. Older adults can assess their fall risk by taking a simple test at www.ymca.net/health-wb-fitness. Through this assessment, individuals can learn how routine activities and other factors help determine their risk for falls.

Once assessing risk, the next step is to take action. The Greater Scranton and Wilkes-Barre Family YMCAs are helping to improve the health and well-being of older adults across the country through membership, group exercise and programs like EnhanceFitness. EnhanceFitness is a free 16-week program geared toward older adults of all fitness levels. If you have a chronic condition, such as arthritis, you may be able to gain more strength and independence. You’ll feel more energized -physically, mentally and socially -and be surrounded by people who care about your success. The Highmark Foundation sponsors the program.

The CDC suggests these basic lifestyle and safety changes to help reduce risk or prevent falls:

Begin an exercise program to improve your leg strength & balance.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines.

Get annual eye check-ups & update your eyeglasses.

Make your home safer by:

Removing clutter & tripping hazards.

Putting railings on all stairs & adding grab bars in the bathroom.

Installing proper lighting, especially on stairs.

To learn more about membership and older adult programming at the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCAs, visit www.greaterscrantonymca.organd www.wbymca.org.