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Stand up to falling fears

120519...R BALANCE 1...Girard...12-05-19...Stephanie Floyd, 65, of Youngstown stretches while attending the Matter of Balance program at the Girard Multi-generational Center...by R. Michael Semple

GIRARD — When winter comes, many older adults have concerns about falling and usually restrict their activities.

To help combat these worries, the Girard Multi-Generational Center is providing a Matter of Balance program, an eight-class activity designed to manage falls and increase activity levels.

Jen Lyszaz, assistant program director for the center, has taught the program for seven years and offers it year-round in the Mahoning Valley.

“The main concern is not just the fear of falling, but that fear of noticing a change within yourself. Things that you used to do daily, you can no longer do,” Lyszaz said. “A lot of this program is helping them realize that it’s not always a life-threatening reason as to why they are falling.”

The program covers three topics: conquering the fear of falling, what it means to be physically active versus exercising and what actions people can take to ensure safety at home. The program also builds strength and balance to further aid in preventing falls.

Falls can happen during the winter, but also during routine activities, according to the National Council of Aging. Some of the reasons are depression, ear infections, the amount of medication being taken or tripping on a rug or staircase.

One in four Americans age 65 or older fall, resulting in more than 2.8 million injuries, including more than 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths each year.

“We get about 10 to 12 calls a year for falling, slipping on ice or shoveling snow,” said Girard police Chief John Norman.

In addition to the core curriculum of the program, Lyszaz also makes sure to add seasonal aspects, like including safety with ice and snow related activities for the December program.

She also tells participants where they can purchase safety items or who to call if they need help cleaning or getting around.

Ruth Ralston of Girard, has taken the class three or four times and finds it beneficial. She has learned how to change things at home to help her get around without falling. She has installed grab bars and lights where she needs them.

“I am more confident about going places,” Ralston said. “I’m 76, and I see people not acting their age because they’re afraid to go out. I need to be able to be independent and go places. This class has helped with balance very much.”

Taunya Fuller of Youngstown, is new to the program and hopes to get a lot out of it.

“Currently, due to my back and knee problems, I need strength to keep from falling. I hope this will improve my balance,” Fuller said.

The December program is underway. For more information on how to join this session or when the next session will be offered, call Lyszaz at the Girard Multi-Generational Center 330-545-6596.

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