Siouxland PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) has implemented a nationally recognized program, A Matter of Balance to help their participants conquer the fear of falling and to eliminate the risk. Siouxland PACE, a UnityPoint Health – St. Luke's program offered to adults 55 and older strives to keep participants in their own homes and helps them live independently. Falling, and the fear of falling, can limit an older adult's independence tremendously.
According to the National Council on Aging: 1 in 3 Americans ages 65 plus fall each year, every 13 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall and every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. Also, falls in adults 65 and older are the leading cause of head injuries and broken hips.
Like the statistics, the costs of these falls can be just as daunting. In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion. The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
A Matter of Balance is 16 hour multi-session workshop. The course is aimed to reduce the fear of falling and to increase the amount of activity in those that participate. This nationally recognized program was developed at the Royal Center at Boston University.
Three PACE employees were selected to be instructors. Drivers Jeff Pilgrim and Craig McNaughton and Recreation Assistant Liz Schoepfer attended master training courses to earn their certification.
“As a driver, I help participants in and out of their homes and into buses and vans daily,” says Jeff Pilgrim. I've seen first-hand how scared they get when they think they might fall, it takes them a while to calm down and sometimes it can ruin their mood for the entire day.”
During the class, instructors incorporate low impact exercises that are facilitated at the Sioux City PACE Center. The participants are given “homework” assignments where they are tasked with “self-identifying” their opportunities. They have to identify their risk factors, develop an action plan, use a home safety check list and make a personal action planner for behavior.
“I've always liked to exercise, but these exercises are ones I would never think of,” says Participant Keith McCuddin. “We
learn to pay attention to the little things, something as easy as picking up my feet a little higher when I walk makes a big difference.”
Due to size limitations the class is only being offered to participants that have been identified as the most at-risk for falls. However, once the new, much larger PACE building opens in April they hope to open the program to more participants.