116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - Wear appropriate shoes. Exercise to improve balance. Check prescriptions for side effects.
These are just a handful of tips emphasized in a fall prevention program that aims to help area seniors stay independent longer and live healthier lives.
Iola Feldkamp, community program coordinator and Stepping On facilitator, said the program focuses on building lower body strength and balance, as well as identifying factors that can increase the chances of falling.
'It covers all the things the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says are important in fall prevention, which is a lot more than people think,” said Joyce Eland, the Visiting Nurse's quality manager.
Program administrators began offering the program in 2015, but struggled until recent months to find facilitators to manage it.
'It's not that there aren't a lot of people doing volunteer work, but a lot of them don't want to sign up for something that is as labor-intensive as facilitating some kind of fall prevention workshop,” Eland said. 'We had one class a year, which is not what you'd call sustainable.”
To address this and to help expand the program's services, Eland said the organization decided to pay four of their own nurses to teach the course four times a year.
'It's better now,” said Anne Riley, a VNA registered nurse and one of the four facilitators.
With a guarantee of regular courses, Riley said the association also partnered with the geriatric clinic at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to refer at-risk patients to the fall prevention program.
Feldkamp said the next Stepping On session is set to take place in mid-July.
The most recent Stepping On program - which has been held at Oaknoll Retirement Community in Iowa City - is nearing its end.
On Tuesday morning, discussion points for the seven attendees included the importance of sufficient vitamin D and calcium in one's diet - as well as other concerns attendees said they'd never thought about.
'I always just got into the car. I never thought about how you get into one,” said Faye Strayer, a 90-year-old Oaknoll resident. 'I never really worried about (falling), but now I think about it.”
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health 2011 fall injury report, unintentional falls was the leading cause of death in those aged 65 and older in the state of Iowa in 2007.
Fall-related hospital charges in Iowa for adults aged 50 to 64 years old totaled than $1.6 billion from 2010 to 2014, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.
The Visiting Nurse Association receives $104,000 from Johnson County for community wellness and health promotion.
Eland said 20 percent of the funding goes toward fall prevention, which entails the Stepping On program and other promotional activities.
Feldkamp said the association will be offering training for Stepping On facilitators July 26-28 at the Visiting Nurse Association office, 1524 Sycamore St., Iowa City.
'So that hopefully will allow for some people in Johnson County and maybe outside of Johnson County to get trained,” Eland said.
Tips to Prevent Falls
Here are ways for seniors to prevent a fall in and around their homes:
l Reduce tripping hazards and improve lighting.
l Add grab bars and railings in baths and on stairs.
l Exercise regularly to increase leg strength and improve balance.
l Review medicines with a doctor or pharmacist to identify any side effects, such as dizziness.
l Eat a healthy diet.
- Iowa Department on Aging
l Comments: (319) 368-8536; firstname.lastname@example.org