Donald Lee, A Matter of Balance Master Trainer with the SARPC/Area Agency on Aging in Mobile, Alabama, received an e-mail from Caroline Canaday, a MOB class participant, about how A Matter of Balance helped her to overcome her fear of falling. This is an edited version of her story:
The Lillian, Alabama class has taught me much. Nobody knows how badly I needed A Matter of Balance. In August, I fell from a height of about three feet onto a concrete driveway. I had my slippery dancing shoes on of all things, and I was at home by myself. I fell hard, and immediately knew that I was in big trouble.
I did not know how badly I was hurt until I got to the hospital. My nose, wrist, and knee were x-rayed. The word for my whole face was "abrasion." They looked at my teeth and said everything was okay. They did not think my wrist was broken, but treated it as if there was a break.
I had pain in all these places. The scars have almost disappeared, but I continued to have lots of unexplained pain. I had follow-up visits with my doctor and dentist. It turned out that I had a fractured and abscessed tooth. That was why I could not get any relief.
Then I began to have fear of falling. When the announcement of the balance class appeared in the Spanish Cove Update, I was quite excited as I felt there was hope for my anxiety. Slowly my fear of falling has gone away. Now when I step down I tell myself, "more than likely you are not going to fall."
In Session One of the MOB class, participants review Handout 1.2, the Fall-Related Attitudes Survey. This handout lists 12 statements that describe attitudes related to falls and asks participants to check whether they agree or disagree with them. Afterwards, they review the statements to which they answered "agree" and write down a positive sentence that shows they have control over fear of falling. Caroline refers to this in her e-mail:
One of the statements on Handout 1.2 says, "Almost every day I think about the fact that I could fall and hurt myself." The directions say "for each statement to which you answered Agree, go back and write a positive sentence that shows that you have control over fear of falling." I went back at some point and wrote,
"I don't think about this so much anymore." Another statement says, "There are things that I would like to do but don't do because I am afraid that I might fall."
I came back and said, "I hope I am learning to be careful."
The book that was given me is quite thick and I have made many notes. I plan to go over it thoroughly many times. I am learning to use the exercises and want them to become a habit.
- Caroline Canaday
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.