In the Coachella Valley, approximately 23,575 local seniors fell once or more in a three-month period according to a recent survey by HARC. In California, 25% of older adults who fall and break a hip die within one year, and falls among older adults are the most common cause of trauma injuries and hospital admissions nationwide.
So, it’s no wonder that 30% of seniors report that their fear of falling has kept them from social activities, which can lead to social isolation – another common concern for the senior population.
These alarming statistics inspired the Mizell Senior Center to bring the nationally recognized A Matter of Balance (AMOB) program to the valley. With community support from area foundations and hospitals, the program is expanding to other locations and is scheduled to grow in 2017.
AMOB was developed at the Roybal Center at Boston University to help attendees reduce their fear of falling and increase their activity level. The course, which consists of eight two-hour sessions led by certified coaches, teaches participants about falls management, falls control, exercise, and social limitations with regard to concerns about falling.
“Falls are not a natural part of aging and most falls are preventable,” said Ann Mostofi, VP of Patient Care and CNO at Eisenhower Medical Center which, along with Desert Regional Medical Center, is one of eleven host locations. The program is funded locally by the Desert Healthcare District and The Auen Foundation.
Since the program debuted last year, it has seen over 300 graduates. Post-program surveys revealed that graduates who took the course learned to change their mindset about falling, changed their environment to reduce the risk of falling, and participated in a regular exercise program as a way of increasing strength and balance as a preventative measure. Many participants viewed the program as educational, fun, and non-threatening, noting that the course provided good exercise and fostered socialization.
“The A Matter of Balance course helps participants learn to see falling as controllable and offers practical strategies on how to manage falls and increase activity levels,” said Suzanne Spencer, Director of the Falls Prevention Program at Mizell Senior Center. “Our goal with this course is to help modify and minimize the physical and psychological ramifications of falling, which helps our participants maintain a healthy level of activity as they age.”
Host sites include the Mizell Senior Center, Cathedral Center/Mercy Housing, Desert Oasis Healthcare, Desert Regional Medical Center, Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower Medical Center, Eisenhower Renker Wellness Center, Joslyn Center, The Springs Country Club, Desert Cove Assisted Living, The Center and The Colony of Rancho Mirage. Plans to extend the program to the east valley are pending funding.
“Our goal of sharing this award-winning falls prevention course with other organizations is to significantly prevent and reduce falls and the fear of falling among the large population of older adults in the greater Palm Springs area,” said Jack Newby, Mizell Senior Center’s Director of Development.