Encouraging others to try
Thirty minutes well spent
by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging
Pat Gervais, a former A Matter of Balance participant, enjoyed the class so much that she continues to help others enroll in the program. We asked her what she liked most about A Matter of Balance and what she learned.
How did you first learn about A Matter of Balance?
A few years ago, I had serious surgery and was dealing with some health issues that made it challenging for me to walk. I contacted Southern Maine Agency on Aging and they suggested a program (now called EnhanceWellness) that might be able to help me reach my goals to become healthier. I was afraid of falling and wanted to become more active and lose weight. I learned about A Matter of Balance through the EnhanceWellness program. I took the class and I enjoyed it so much that I'm still involved with it today.
What did you like most about A Matter of Balance?
The leaders were so caring and helpful and they made the classes fun. I also liked meeting new people who were in a similar condition as me. We shared our concerns and I liked the fact that everything remained confidential within our group. We all shared new techniques for dealing with our fear of falling and ways to be more active.
Did the class help you to achieve your goal to become more active?
Absolutely! I continued to do the Matter of Balance exercises after the class was over, and I made a commitment to myself to increase the number of steps I took each day. I wore a pedometer on my leg to keep track of my steps. I also joined Weight Watchers and lost 40 pounds. I became more and more confident and actually made plans to visit my grandson, who had retired as an officer from the Navy. He wanted to get more exercise so we made an agreement that he would do two steps for every step I took. I couldn't believe how many steps I could do! It is an easy and motivating way to increase activity.
What else did you learn from the class that really made a difference?
I've learned to accept help. I also learned to become more assertive with my doctor. I'm not afraid to ask questions. I want to understand the doctor's recommendations and the medications prescribed. My daughter comes with me to my appointments to make sure we know exactly what to do and what to expect.
How do you continue to help others today?
I volunteer once a week helping Anne Murray, who is a Master Trainer at Southern Maine Agency on Aging, to set up classes and do telephone reminders. It is so rewarding knowing that I can help others learn from this class! I am so pleased that I can perhaps encourage someone else to try.
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A Matter of Balance is an award-winning program designed to manage falls and increase activity levels. The program consists of eight 2-hour sessions. Participants learn to set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and learn simple exercises to increase strength and balance.