Slip and fall accidents are responsible for 15 percent of accidental deaths, second only to motor vehicle accidents (according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations or OSHA). To lower that number on-island and empower seniors to maintain mobility without fear of falling, the St. Croix Senior Collaborative recently began teaching a national fall prevention program called A Matter of Balance. Program goals are to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among seniors at-risk for such accidents. The course seeks to prevent slips by training participants (60 or older) reliable mobility techniques over eight sessions lasting two hours each. The class sizes are small, ideally between 8 and 12 participants.
St. Croix residents Linda Garvin and Bill Boyton are spearheading the program, having traveled to Portland, Maine in 2016 to become master trainers in the A Matter of Balance program. They have, in turn, trained 30 local coaches to teach fall-prevention sessions in the territory.
The missions of the class are straightforward. They include setting realistic goals to increase physical activity; to encourage exercise for added strength and balance; to change housing environments to reduce fall risk; and to manage the fear of falling at a healthy level. Nationwide follow-up surveys six months after completing the A Matter of Balance program show these goals being accomplished. For example, 97 percent of seniors who complete the program feel comfortable increasing their physical activity level, and 99 percent plan to continue exercising. Results show a decrease in the number of falls among participants, plus better management and control over such accidents.
Currently, the courses are offered at Frederiksted Health Care and St. Patrick’s Learning Lab. Later in February, they will begin classes at Beach Side Café and Red Cross Sunny Isle. According to Garvin, they hope to offer a class at Juan F. Luis Hospital in the near future. The only participant requirements are that you must be age 60 or older, ambulatory, and capable of solving problems. Those interested in enrolling can contact The St. Croix Senior Collaborative at balanceSTX@gmail.com or by calling 340-690-3002.
A Matter of Balance is an award-winning program for seniors. Accolades include the 2006 Healthcare and Aging Award from The American Society on Aging. The program also received the 2006 Innovations and Achievements Award presented by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.
The A Matter of Balance program is offered in the U.S. Virgin Islands thanks to a generous $9000 grant from the Bennie and Martha Benjamin Foundation of St. Thomas. It is also thanks to major sponsors AARP; Billy D’s Barbeque, Grill and Catering; Continuum Care; Massabesic Health Resources, VI; and The Turning Point Senior Care.
AeroMD is pleased to be a resource of medical information in our U.S. Virgin Islands community, to share good news of programs like A Matter of Balance. Particularly for seniors at-risk for serious injury with slip/fall accidents, reliable medevac coverage is imperative. With the only dedicated medevac aircraft on-island, AeroMD offers membership for seniors in the USVI and greater Caribbean. Learn more or sign-up today at AeroMD.com.