A Matter of Balance

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Provided by Prince William County

Do you have a fear of falling, or have you fallen in the past? Have you restricted your activities for fear of falling? Are you interested in improving your balance, flexibility and strength? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then “A Matter of Balance” is for you!

Hosted by the Prince William Area Agency on Aging, the “Matter of Balance” workshop will include strategies to conquer the fear of falling and suggest ways to reduce the risk of falling. The classes are free.  They will run twice a week, Wednesdays and Thursdays,from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, starting Wednesday, Oct. 30, through Thursday, Nov. 21, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 12975 Purcell Road, Manassas.

The agency will host a second “Matter of Balance” workshop for those unable to attend the first. This one will be offered at the Manassas Senior Center, 9320 Mosby Street, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, through Tuesday, Dec. 17.

What to expect from the workshop

According to Jodie Houser, evidence-based programs coordinator for the Area Agency on Aging, the workshop will teach people to reconsider how they go about their daily lives. “It’s called cognitive restructuring. It’s rethinking your situation and seeing what other solutions there are, so that you can move around in your environment more freely and safely.”

Those who attend the workshop will learn to become confident in things like descending or climbing stairs or negotiating uneven terrain, Houser said. “We challenge that fear of falling, and we teach people to stop and think about what they’re fearful of. We compare it to a red light mentality where it’s something like ‘Don’t do it, don’t do it, you’re going to fall;’ and we try to change that behavior to more of a yellow light mentality.”

Challenging and overcoming the fear of falling can include getting more exercise, moving things in the home to a reachable level, staying off step ladders, removing trip hazards, such as throw rugs, and improving lighting.

Lack of exercise can contribute to falls, but fear can contribute to people avoiding exercise, Houser said. “When somebody develops a big fear of falling, they can tend to decrease their activities, which decreases their muscle strength, which can increase the risk of falling.”

People who attend the workshop will learn exercises to increase hip, back and ankle strength, along with strategies to help them meet the goals of getting more exercise and seeing that their home is made safer so that they can move around more freely, Houser said.

A physical therapist will also attend one of the sessions to show how to get up from a fall.

Call Houser at 571-241-3925 or email [email protected] to register for the free workshop.

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