Fall prevention program helps to keep seniors on their feet

By KBJR News 1

March 16, 2014 Updated Mar 16, 2014 at 10:43 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) - If you have an aging loved one, you know that there is rarely such a thing as a small fall. Any stumble an older adult takes could lead them down a path of much more serious health problems.

A new program at Essentia Health St. Mary's Hospital in Superior is working to prevent those falls altogether.

"They're surprised at the simple things that they can do to make their home safer and to make them stronger in their surroundings," said physical therapist, Kathleen Halverson.

For the past eight months, the hospital has offered a fall prevention program. Working in a room set up like a home, therapists assess what obstacles seniors might be faced with while in their own homes. Therapists even go over a senior's home layout plan with them to assess where there might be the greatest risk of falling.

"My balance is bad when I walk. I just can't seem to catch myself anymore," said Rita Mehtala, 76, a participant in the program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one-third of people 65 and older fall every year. One in five falls causes a serious injury, causing over two million older adults to be treated in emergency rooms each year.

"Often we are so unaware of our own surroundings that it takes a third eye to show us some of those hazards," said Halverson of the program.

Those interested in attending a fall prevention session should contact their primary care providers. Therapists say that the cost of the sessions is typically covered by insurance.