fall prevention program

BETTER ON BALANCE — Terry Foutz (left) and Janice Sunday (right) practice their balance with weights at a SAIL Balance and Fitness class at the Sebastopol Area Senior Center.

Balance class yields lasting gains for seniors who attend classes

Each year, millions of older adults aged 65 and older fall. In fact, more than one out of four older adults falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling just one time doubles your chances of falling again.

In Sonoma County, falls are the leading cause of fractures, hospital admission for trauma, and injury deaths among older adults. Turns out, falls are the single greatest concern that has been expressed by the seniors who took part in a county-wide survey.

To help combat this issue, last year the Sebastopol Area Senior Center formed a Fall Prevention Advisory Committee, aimed at developing strategies for a community-based balance program.

As part of the advisory committee’s goals, we began an on-going, twice-per-week balance and fitness program called SAIL Balance & Strength (Stay Active & Independent for Life).

Each class includes a warm-up, aerobics portion, a balance component, and a cool-down.

To track improvements, students in the class participate in a pre-assessment, and then are re-assessed every three months. In less than a year, students who have attended more than 50 percent of classes each month have found significant improvement: gross upper body strength improved by 57 percent; gross leg strength improved by 33 percent; and  mobility and balance (measured by a Timed Up and Go test) has increased by 16 percent.

In addition, we are connecting with several local groups and agencies such as the Palm Drive Health Care District, American Medical Response (AMR) and Dominican University to work together to reduce the fall rate among older adults in Sonoma County and to help our community members stay active and independent for life.

This September, join the Sebastopol Area Senior Center for several fall prevention programs designed to raise awareness about falls and how to prevent them.

These programs are open to adults of all ages.

Fall risk screening

Friday, Sept. 14, 3 to 5 p.m.

Be challenged by a series of tests to help you determine if you are at risk for falling and discover what you can do to lower your risk of having a fall. First come, first served; 20 participants maximum. This is a free event.

Fall prevention workshop

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2 - 3 p.m.

In this brief and engaging interactive workshop you’ll ... 1) gain an awareness of fall prevention myths and the facts that refute them; 2) identify ways to address fall risks, home safety, health concerns; and 3) learn about A Matter of Balance & SAIL Balance Class.

Presented by Sonoma County’s Area Agency on Aging, this event is free and open to the community.

Call 707-829-2440 to RSVP.

SAIL Balance & Fitness Classes

The Sebastopol Area Senior Center offers on-going classes, every Tuesday and Thursday, at 3:30-4:30 p.m.  to help you improve your balance, feel better, stay independent and active. Instructor: Julie Smith, PT. 

Classes: members, $5; non-members, $8 (scholarships available)

The Sebastopol Senior Center would like to extend special thanks to all of our Fall Prevention Committee members: Sandra Bodley, Alanna Brogan of Palm Drive Health Care District, Katie Davis, John Johnson, Julie Smith, Mitch Savitsky, and Jill Vincent of AMR.

Katie Davis is the programs and rental director at the Sebastopol Area Senior Center.

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