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Before the Fall
The Sebastopol Senior Center has a new Fall Prevention lecture series coming in May
Every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall in the United States. Many more are injured. One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. And according to the CDC, falls—and the injuries and deaths they cause—are increasing.
The Sebastopol Senior Center is already on the case, with several programs designed to help local seniors prevent falls. In March, they did a Fall Risk Assessment for members, and since 2018 they’ve run a series of classes called SAIL (Stay Active and Independent for Life), a balance and fitness program. They offer both standing and sitting SAIL classes.
In May, the Center will be stepping up their fall prevention efforts with a five-part lecture series, organized by Julie Smith, a retired physical therapist and the Center’s balance improvement exercise instructor. (She founded the SAIL program at the center and teaches the standing SAIL class.)
“Our Fall Prevention Program is just now hitting its stride for the season,” Smith said. “SAIL classes are continuing, and we have both an in-person and online methods for improving strength, flexibility and balance. But the big event we are preparing for now is the Spring Health Lecture Series, five Wednesdays starting on May 10.”
The lectures will happen from 2:30 to 3:30 pm. They are designed for both seniors and their caretakers.
Here’s the schedule:
May 10 - Fall Risks and Getting Up from a Fall, with Marianne Potts, P.T.
This lecture will set the stage for those that follow. It will cover risks that are both intrinsic—like weakness, dizziness, poor vision and chronic health challenges—as well as extrinsic, like throw rugs, slippery floors, low lighting, etc. It will also address how to get up from a fall and what the individual can do subsequently.
May 17 - Common Neurological Disorders and Balance, with Alan Bernstein, M.D.
This lecture addresses common neurological disorders in the senior population and how they potentially affect balance. It will include Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, dementia and peripheral neuropathy, as well as other conditions. It will further the understanding of how these conditions can create balance challenges and how those challenges can be addressed.
May 24 - Common Vestibular Conditions in the Elderly and How They can be Treated, with Lisa Bell, P.T.
Vestibular conditions, like dizziness and vertigo, are very common as we get older and are a major contributor to falls. However these conditions are varied and can be extremely complex. Often seniors with them are confused by their conditions and treatment. This lecture begins to sort out the most widely experienced conditions, naming and describing them as well as pointing to treatments.
May 31 - Medications and Fall Risk, with Steve Levenberg, D.O.
The final lecture in the series is another topic that is absolutely relevant to fall prevention. Some medications alone or in interaction with other medications create a hidden falling hazard that may never rise into awareness. This lecture talks about specific medications and their broader categories, allowing participants to identify if they need to return to their primary care provider to address potential problems.
The fifth lecture, on June 7, is about finding support for caregivers.
These lectures are free for both Senior Center members and everyone else. The lectures will be offered both in person and online.
“Julie has been a pioneer in providing exercise classes using both Zoom and in person simultaneously. She is a pathbreaker in this regard,” said Sebastopol Senior Center Director Joan Churchill. “Because of this, we are taking the leap to offer our Spring Lectures using this same method. Using technology and in person is such a great way of creating access for people—and we archive the Zooms for awhile for people who can’t meet the date and time constraints.”
Smith hopes a lot of people from the broader community will show up for the lectures.
“The speakers we’ve chosen really know what they're talking about,” she said. “They are rock solid. I feel so good about their professionalism, that I really want to encourage as many people to come to these lectures as possible.”
While you’re waiting for the lecture series to start, mosey on over to the Center’s Fall Prevention resource page on their website, where you’ll find lots of information on preventing falls as well as a handy video for the elderly about how to get up after you’ve taken a fall.
The Fall Prevention lecture series will be available Wednesdays starting May 10 from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at the Sebastopol Area Senior Center at 167 N. High Street, Sebastopol, and also on Zoom. Any interested person is invited to attend. All workshops are free for both members and non-members. Register by calling 707-829-2440.
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