Piedmont YMCA starts workshop to prevent senior falls

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- In 20 minutes, an older adult will die from a fall.

That’s how often it happens in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

LaLa Headen is a Piedmont woman who fell recently.

“It was a horrible experience,” she said.

She fell after leaving a building in Greensboro.

“There was nothing there that would be in the way to make me fall, I just lost my balance,” she said.

The fall took a toll on her confidence.

“That fall put a certain kind of fear in me that I’d never had before,” Headen said.

Headen attended The Hayes-Taylor YMCA’s first fall prevention workshop Friday.

Her goal was to learn what she could do to prevent falling again.

Executive Director Larry Burnett says it was important to have the workshop because staff noticed that many of the Y’s seniors had fallen or knew someone who fell.

One way to assess your fall risk is by doing what’s called the Timed Up and Go test.

Physical therapist Tracey Powell says a person 65 and older should be able to walk 10 feet and back within a few seconds.

“If it takes them longer than 12 seconds to do that, they are considered a fall risk,” Powell said. “They need to work on their mobility if they score over 12.”

It’s also recommended that people check their home to make sure items are not situated in such a way that it could lead to a fall.

For example, checking to see if rugs can slip easily, or if a shower or a tub is slippery.

Also, getting stronger with exercise can help build core strength that helps with balance.

The workshop included chair exercises using weights and basic aerobics.

The Hayes-Taylor YMCA says it will be incorporating Tai Chi based on research that shows it can be helpful in preventing falls.

“It will reduce the risk of falling by about 70 percent in addition to the other things that you have to do,” Burnett said.

“I know when I come here, sometimes if I work extra hard I might feel a little sore, but I keep coming and it works for me,” Headen said.

It’s also recommended that people 65 and older have an annual medicine review with a doctor or pharmacist to make sure medications are not adversely interacting.

Maintaining annual vision screenings is also important.

The Hayes-Taylor YMCA plans to offer the fall prevention workshop each quarter.