Preventing Devastating Falls in Seniors

Program helps area seniors.
EAST FREEDOM, BLAIR COUNTY - Many older people never recover from a broken hip--they lose their ability to live independently -- more than ten percent die. In our region,it's easy to find out whether you're risk and to get help in reducing the danger.
At the Southern Blair Senior Center in East Freedom, the day's questions include how fast can you get up from a chair, walk eight feet and sit down?  How many times can stand up, and sit back down?

Everyone in the Healthy Steps and Motion class gets a chance to answer. 82-year-old Norma Czerwinski aced those tests, but had a little trouble standing on one leg to test her balance. Overall, though, she's in pretty good shape. "I do my own housework, 4 bedrooms, 4 baths an upstairs and I have a large yard," she says.  She also does yard work, she explains.

A recent UPMC study shows that the Healthy Steps program isn't an exercise in futility. Researchers found a 17 percent reduction in falls for people who took part.

Bill Harshman a runner, Golden Games volunteer, and retired agriculture teacher, leads the assessment and gives advice.

"One of the things I hear in the feedback in the class us 'oh, I recognize that and I'm going to go home and make a change,'" he says.

Norma exercises regularly at a Healthy Steps class in Duncansville. "When you first start it's a little hard because you're moving body parts that you have never moved in a long, long time but you get used to it and it strengthens my legs," she says.

Blair Senior Services offers Healthy Steps classes at its centers, as well as zumba, yoga, and line dancing, which are also good ways to stay in shape.

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