Fall prevention clinic slated at Providence St. Mary

The free clinics are geared toward helping seniors and their caregivers prevent falls.

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Falling down may be embarrassing, but it also can cause serious injuries. The fear of falling can also become an obstacle to exercise, restrict mobility and lead to isolation. But there are things you can do to reduce your risk of falling.
Free clinics to help seniors and caregivers prevent falls will be held at Providence St. Mary Medical Center Wednesday and Dec. 2 in the Providence Room on Level 1, 2-4 p.m.
The clinics will be presented by Tai Kohler and Annalena Williams. Kohler, who has a doctorate in physical therapy and Williams, a registered and licensed occupational therapist, will give a 45-minute presentation about how seniors can prevent falls and injuries. Avoiding these accidents can go a long way toward seniors remaining safe and independent in their homes for as long as possible. After the presentation there will be plenty of time for questions and answers.
Interested seniors, caregivers and medical professionals can learn about the risk factors for falls and complications caused by them.
Following the presentation, Kohler and Williams will provide free fall risk screenings.
"Our goal is to keep people independent in their homes," Kohler said. "There are some things you can do to prevent falls." According to Kohler, there are some fairly simple adjustments that can be made to help safeguard you in your home. The clinic will include information on helpful equipment such as walkers, reachers and toilet risers. In the individual sessions they will review medications and their potential to contribute to falls.
The session can include simple balance tests, subject to the abilities of the participant. One of these is what Kohler called the "forward reach test," to see how far forward a person could reach before losing their balance. Another test is the "timed up and go" test, to see how fast a person can get up out of a chair and go forward a specific distance. "These have been standardized over hundreds of thousands of people," she explained.
To improve balance they can recommend some simple exercises. "One of the best things is to stay active, walk every day, even a little bit. Reduce the clutter around your house, clear pathways, pick up electrical cords so you don’t have things you can trip over."
The last session they held was well-attended, she said. "People had a lot of questions. It’s the power of the group, someone may ask a question that you hadn’t thought of yet." They will have printed information to give to participants as well.
For information, call the Rehabilitation Department at Providence St. Mary Medical Center at 509-522-5821.
Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at karleneponti@wwub.com.

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