Each year in the U.S. millions of adults aged 65 and older fall. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are largely preventable, and especially so if one of the precautions taken is a fall prevention class like “A Matter of Balance” or “Stepping On” offered by Elderbridge.
One out of three older adults aged 65 or older falls each year, but less than half of those admit it when talking to their healthcare providers. Even less likely if you’re a man, despite the fact that men are more likely than women to die from a fall, with the fall death rate 41% higher for men. Why the difference?
“Society demands that men emulate a tough, independent ideal--that isn't always compatible with programs or services that could help with fall prevention,” explains Val Sliger, Elderbridge fall prevention class instructor, “Women are also the higher percentage of attendees at our classes.”
One of Sliger’s students is Ross Ransom of Mason City, “Us guys, we have trouble admitting when we do have a problem, I think more than women do, I noticed there’s only about 4 men in the class, all the rest are women. Male ego needs to take a back seat.”
Despite never having suffered from falls, Ransom and his wife Marvyl decided to be pro-active.
“It was just something we did as a precaution more than anything,” said Ransom, “I had gone to my doctor and he said I had neuropathy from the knees down and that had a lot to do with my balance. And when I would get up after sitting down, my blood pressure drops causing dizziness, so when we saw the class we thought I won’t hurt, that’s for sure.”
So the Ransoms signed up for “A Matter of Balance” classes held this fall at Kentucky Ridge in Mason City. The motivation for Ross came from the success story of another former student, “I had read about it in your newsletter, the article about Bob Terry in Clear Lake and how it helped him out. I thought it could help us out. I’ve already gotten some good out of it, just through the exercises. Val says we only have to do the exercises 3 times a week at a minimum. They’re not strenuous or anything like that, but we’re doing anything that will help. The big thing too is we are learning what our limitations are and being able to ask for help if we need it.”
Ross says reluctant men would be well advised to follow his lead and take the class before necessity dictates due to a fall. “I would recommend it, definitely. You can’t beat it really. All it takes is a little time and if you’re retired, you probably have a lot of that on your hands. If we could convince someone else to take the class and help them out so they don’t fall, that would be great because at some point in time, we’re all going to need it.”