STAND UP TO FALLING: Guest post By Larry Johnson

Rear doors of ambulance.
Rear doors of ambulance.
Photo of Larry Johnson – headshot.

Larry Johnson is the author of seven books including a collection of his popular commentaries published in the San Antonio Express-News. In 2017 he received the Texas Governor’s Trophy for Outstanding Service advocating for persons with disabilities.

If you are a person over 65 like me, I’m going to share some rather startling and really scary statistics about being a senior. According to the U.S. Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention, 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. What’s more, those who fall are two to three times more likely to fall again. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common

cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. They result in more than 2.5 million injuries treated in emergency departments

annually, including over 734,000 hospitalizations and more than 21,700 deaths. Impaired vision affects balance and increases the risk of a fall. One of

every five visually impaired seniors experience a fall every year.

That’s the bad news, now here’s the good news. 80% of all reported falls could have been prevented, if we eliminate the causes. What are some of the causes?

Tripping hazards or poor lighting in the home. 60% of all falls occur at home. Wearing unsafe footwear (such as flip-flops). Failing to wipe up wet spots

on the floor in the kitchen or bathroom. Dizziness from standing up too quickly. And, this is a huge one, a decrease in our muscle tone and balance from

adopting a more sedentary, less active life style.

“A Matter of Balance is a nationally recognized program developed at the Roybal Center at Boston University, designed to reduce the fear of falling and

increase activity levels among older adults. Participants learn to view falls and the fear of falling as something they can control. They set realistic goals to increase physical activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors and learn an exercise regimen to increase their strength and

balance. Sadly, as far as I know, due to the coronavirus pandemic there are no matter of Balance classes being offered right now, virtually or in-person. Check with your local Area Agency on Aging next spring. In the meantime, The American Council of the Blind through its Community Calls platform does have a number of Zoom sessions on Yoga and stretching and endurance exercises. These sessions are open to anyone, members and nonmembers alike. So, until a vaccine for the virus becomes available and the Matter of Balance classes resume, this might be a good alternative. To learn more about the virtual classes from ACB, contact:

Cindy Hollis at American Council of the Blind 612-345-9036

You can join their Community Events email list for a morning email with that day’s schedule:

Once we experience a fall we develop the fear of falling again and, as a consequence, we may limit our physical activity, which results in muscle weakness

which makes our risk of falling even greater.

I believe that fall prevention classes,and in the meantime exercise classes, for seniors who are blind or visually impaired can help avoid painful

injuries and greatly extend their lives.

Books by Larry Johnson:

Mexico By touch (Audio version)  DBC04882 (Braille version) BR15306

Inside My World  (Audio version) DB72707 (Braille version) BR19118

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