Having spent a majority of my nursing career in the Emergency Department, I have seen first hand the initial injuries and long term effects of falls in older populations.
The long term rehabilitations after fracture, the fear of future falls and the self limiting of activity related to those fears are all part of the impact that falls have in senior populations. As folks tend to walk less related to these fears of falling it also limits their participation in things that they previously had enjoyed often leading to social isolation and subsequent depression. The downward spiral of a fall, inactivity related to fear of future falls, weight gain and lost muscle tone very much affects life quality and the ability to age with independence.
As a parish nurse, I serve a large congregation with a significant demographic over 75 so fall prevention seemed like a perfect way to help congregation members and the community at large stay well in mind, body and spirit.
Crosslake Lutheran was approached by Crow Wing Energized to be a host site for the Matter of Balance class which seemed to be the perfect partnership to achieve those goals. This course includes eight two-hour sessions that focus on building confidence in moving safely, reducing the fear of falling, and increasing strength and balance through simple exercises.
Norma Hudson and Gina Heyer have provided the class for many years now and our faith community appreciates their energy, professionalism and ways of making the training not only fun but non-threatening.
The peer support process is also a wonderful part of the program as seniors realize their concerns of falling are shared by many of their friends. As I watch people walk in church or at our outdoor worship site, I can often find those doing the “careful shuffle,” which is characterized by barely lifting their feet or looking for ways to support their balance through borrowed adaptive equipment that may or may not be appropriately sized for the person.
Referring these pre-fall folks to Matter of Balance has been lifechanging for some people as I see them begin to resume activities that were considered to be too risky because of their concern of falling. It also allows seniors to continue to modify risk factors for diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular illness related to inactivity and subsequent weight gain.
A fall assessment session conducted by Matter of Balance coaches is a great way to identify seniors who may have not fallen yet but are beginning to show concerns about their strength and balance. If you or family member have concerns about falling, please reach out to Crow Wing Energized for class dates and times: https://crowwingenergized.org/events/ Crosslake Lutheran’s class will begin early September on Thursday afternoons, I hope to see you there instead of in the Emergency Department or in the Cardiology Clinic.