More Texans falling less. That’s the aim of a $602,779 federal grant awarded to United Way for a new project called FREE (Falls Reduction Education and Empowerment). The grant was one of only seven such grants awarded nationwide by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults. More than 60,000 Texans age 50 and older were hospitalized for a fall-related injury in 2011 alone.
Over the next two years, United Way of Tarrant County will work with eight Area Agencies on Aging and other partners to offer the evidence-based falls prevention program called A Matter of Balance in the Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and El Paso metropolitan areas.
A Matter of Balance is a proven series of eight free classes that help participants reduce their fear of falling, increase their strength, balance and activity level through exercise, and teach them how to protect themselves and recover if they do fall.
United Way’s LIVE WELL health initiative offers the A Matter of Balance program through Senior Citizen Services of Greater Tarrant County. More than 2,600 local residents have graduated from the program. The FREE project is committed to helping at least 3,406 more Texans complete A Matter of Balance training by the end of August 2017.
Improved Geriatric Care
In related news, United Way’s Area Agency on Aging will receive part of the $850,000 in first-year funding awarded to the UNT Health Science Center by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve health care delivery and medical training benefitting older adults in North Texas.
“We are extremely excited to be working in close partnership with UNT Health Science Center, TCU and JPS Health Network to improve and expand services to underserved older adults and their caregivers in Tarrant County,” said Don Smith, Director of United Way’s Area Agency on Aging of Tarrant County.
Most of the $140,000 allotted to United Way’s Area Agency on Aging through the grant will be used to expand components of United Way’s LIVE WELL initiative, including
- the REACH II program for people with Alzheimer’s and related dementias, and their caregivers
- HomeMeds medicine management program
- Diabetes and nutrition counseling
- A Matter of Balance falls prevention classes
- Health literacy training for health profession students, residents in training and practicing primary care clinicians
By 2050, the number of 65+ residents in Tarrant County is expected to triple.