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Preventing Falls: There’s a Class for That

a-matter-of-balance-class-in-southlake-392x304Every year about one million older Texans fall, and 20 to 30 percent of those who fall require hospitalization. Many must be placed in nursing homes.

Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury, accounting for more than 27,000 deaths in the United States in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The direct medical costs for fall injuries are $34 billion annually.

As part of United Way of Tarrant County’s LIVE WELL health initiative, Senior Citizen Services offers “A Matter of Balance,” a free class proven to help older adults reduce their risk and fear of falling. Recent local surveys found that seven in 10 A Matter of Balance graduates felt they were better able to control falls. “The class showed me what I can do to keep from falling,” said Sue, an A Matter of Balance participant.

More than 3,000 people have graduated from A Matter of Balance in the Tarrant County area since 2010 when United Way’s Area Agency on Aging brought the program to Tarrant County. This makes it the largest fall prevention effort of its kind in Texas.

The A Matter of Balance class consists of eight two-hour sessions held once or twice a week and led by trained volunteer lay leaders. It helps participants

  • reduce fall hazards in their homes
  • increase strength, flexibility and balance
  • protect themselves and recover if they do fall

“I learned HOW to fall,” said Alcee, an A Matter of Balance participant.

Karla said that after taking the class, “I was able to locate places in my home that were a danger to me, and I was able to locate uneven places on the sidewalk when walking my dog.”

Helen said the class helped her circulation issues.

A Matter of Balance reduces hospital readmissions, emergency room visits and premature nursing home placements, which is one reason the program has been adopted by Tarrant County Public Health, Texas Health Resources, JPS Health Network, Baylor Scott & White, and HCA North Texas.

To see a schedule of A Matter of Balance classes, click here.