Fear of Falling May Be Managed

January 10, 2014
Fall prevention is key to minimizing injuries

Fall prevention is key to minimizing injuries

Remember the late 1980s television commercial that featured Mrs. Fletcher suffering a tragic fall and the famous line, “Help!  I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”?

Fear of falling can be an immobilizing fear for many aging parents.  The memory of a near-fall or the first-hand observation of a neighbor or friend suffering severe injury from a fall can cause seniors to limit their mobility.

It’s true that falls become more common, and the negative effects of a fall can be more debilitating as we age.  However, prevention may be one of the keys to avoiding a fall.  Now, aging parents, spouses, and others may have access to a special program that can help in this area.

A Matter of Balance

The program is called “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns about Falls.”  It was developed by Boston University’s Roybal Center and is designed to reduce the fear of falls among adults and to increase their activity levels – a win-win situation for participants! The program consists of eight two-hour sessions led by a trained facilitator.  Many of these facilitators are ordinary people who have received training through a special grant from the Administration on Aging so that more people across the nation can benefit from the program.

What’s in the Program?

“A Matter of Balance” utilizes group discussions, problem-solving, skill building, assertiveness training, practical solutions, and exercise training to achieve its goals:

  • View falls, and fear of falling as controllable (involves changing behavior with a focus on building falls self-efficacy, i.e., the belief that one can engage in an activity without falling).
  • Set realistic goals for increasing activity (by instilling adaptive beliefs such as greater perceived control, greater confidence in one’s abilities and more realistic assessment of failures).
  • Change their environment to reduce fall risk factors (uses a home safety evaluation and action planner to reduce fall risk hazards in the home and community).
  • Promote exercise to increase strength and balance.

By working with trained leaders in a program that is evidence-based and has clear goals, participants can learn behaviors and skills that they can adapt to their own specific needs.  These behaviors and skills can be a boon in maintaining balance, reducing the risk of falls and improving overall physical health by enabling the individual to be more physically active.

Where Is A Matter of Balance Offered?

Aging parents and others can contact the Texas Fall Prevention Coalition to locate A Matter of Balance program in their area.

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