East Lake Fire Rescue hosts balancing program to help prevent seniors from falling

Falling can be a threat to older adults and seniors, and sometimes affect their ability to live independently. A free program hosted by East Lake Fire Rescue in Pinellas County aims to help seniors keep their balance

Woody and Jane Webster went to the East Lake Fire Rescue Station for the free program, which is called A Matter of Balance. Jane said they do things like leg lifts to strengthen their legs. 

"My husband needed the course, because he has balance issues. But after I got here, I realized I needed it too," said Jane. 

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Terri Toner, who is with the Area Agency on Aging, said the program is designed for adults ages 60 and up to prevent falls. 

"It really does help you to concentrate on what in the world you're doing with your feet and your legs and that's really important when you're trying to walk and stay upright," said Woody.

Claudia Hernandez with East Lake Fire Rescue said preventing falls is one of their biggest goals because these incidents are the number one reason that their firefighters are called to respond.

"When we respond to calls it's just a very sad call for us, because it is something that's completely preventable, so this is why this class is so important to us," said Hernandez.

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The program also gets the participants to think about potential hazards around the home, according to program instructor Vally Kalariotes.

"In the bathroom you need to have things like grab bars and watch out for your rugs," said Jane.

Woody said he and Jane eliminated all rugs and even put motion activated lights in the floor for walking around at night in dark rooms. 

Overcoming fear is also a big lesson in the program. 

"I was constantly worried about falling on the streets," Jane said. "Through exploring the many more things that you can do to make yourself more comfortable walking, I feel that that has helped a lot."

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"We have a lot of problem-solving. Like I can't go to this show, it's too crowded. Well let's think about a solution," said Kalariotes.

Along with a boost of confidence, the Websters said they feel stronger and safer.

"Anyone of any age can do these exercises, because they're easy to do, but they strengthen you so that if you fall you're able to help yourself a little better get up," said Jane.

East Lake Fire and Rescue plans to host another Matter of Balance course in March.

For more information about registration, click here. You can also reach out to Claudia Hernandez with East Lake Fire Rescue at chernandez@elfr.org.

To find out more about the Health & Wellness Programs of the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas, you can email Terri Toner at terri.toner@aaapp.org.