CHAMPAIGN — Sometimes it can be the simply overlooked risks, like a dimly lighted room or an icy driveway, that can make the difference between walking safely and falling.
But fear of falling can also take a toll on older adults who become trapped in a vicious circle: It can lead to being less active and more isolated, which can in turn lead to more falls, according to Rosanna McLain, director of the Senior Resource Center at Family Service of Champaign County.
McLain will be teaching a free four-week course that’s intended to help older adults prevent fall risks and reduce fear of falling.
The course, called “A Matter of Balance,” will be offered from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday from Aug. 20 to Sept. 12 at Family Service, 405 S. State St., C.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults, according to the National Council on Aging. About one in four older adults fall every year, and many of those falls are considered preventable.
The fall prevention course is intended for older adults who have fallen in the past, those who have concerns about falling and those who have cut back on activities out of fear of falling.
Some of what the course intends to pass along is how to view falls as controllable and make changes at home to reduce the risks. McLain said classes will include problem-solving as participants discuss their fall-related fears and strategize about how to overcome them.
For example, she said, there may be someone who used to enjoy going to events at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts but is now staying away out of fear of being in a crowd and falling.
One class will also include a physical or occupational therapist who can answer questions, such as, how to safely get back off the floor after falling, McLain said.
Also included will be exercise to increase strength and improve balance and range of motion, she said.
Some causes of falls to consider, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health:
— Your medications: Some can cause dizziness or sleepiness or affect your judgment and coordination. (People on medications are advised to check with their doctors about side effects that can increase the risk of falling.)
— Your changing health: That can include fading vision, low blood pressure, heart disease, muscle weakness, osteoporosis and declining ability to judge what’s safe and what isn’t.
— Your surroundings: Poor lighting, slippery floors and rugs, clutter, electrical cords where people walk, seat heights that are too low and a lack of surfaces to grab onto all increase fall risk.
— Your footwear: Wearing shoes or slippers that don’t fit well, are back-less or with slippery soles — or wearing just socks around the house — can contribute to falling.
To register for the class, call McLain at 217-352-5100.