What people say about A Matter of Balance

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"A Matter of Balance was most helpful - it made me more aware of what can be done to ensure safety at home. The class provided a definite time each week to meet and discuss concerns with others. I wish we had even more exercise activities at each class. Great to share and learn!"

"I'm picking up my feet more when I walk. I'm not trying to carry all my groceries at once into my home. I'm using a cane more when I walk on my lawn. I'm turning on more lights as I travel in my home."

"I feel better about being careful. My confidence has risen. And I am being more assertive and feel good about it, not intimidated."

"Talked to my doctor about my medication causing me to be dizzy at times. She made a change."

People who participated in the virtual Matter of Balance classes:

“Was able to talk and share (not isolated) … More positive thinking that I am not alone in my ‘journey.’”

“Class got me into exercise!”

“We talked about being positive, about not falling, and the more you relax you are the less likely to fall.”

“It has motivated me to work more on my physical health, thanks for the help.”

Featured Stories

Many people have shared what they learned from participating in A Matter of Balance. We feature a few of their stories below.

Betty Robertson headshot
Betty Robertson

Anyone Can Benefit from this Class

by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging

Betty Robertson of Bedford Heights, Ohio, is proud of each and every one of her eighty-seven years, and she’s happy to share that with you. When Bill Starkey, Coordinator of Senior Services at the Jimmy Dimora Community Center, decided to introduce a Matter of Balance class to local seniors, Betty thought it sounded like a good idea to join the new group. And her doctor agreed. 

The MOB group totaled 15 people, and they fast became like family. They shared coffee, tea and special snacks together… while they learned key strategies to help them stay sure-footed and safer in their own homes. Betty likens the group to a team where each person looks out for the next. The group was so at ease with each other that discussions on bringing them back to mentor Starkey’s next class have taken place. Betty is quite sure they could teach the next group a number of helpful hints. 

Betty worked for thirty years in the meat department in her hometown grocery store. She spent a lot of time on her feet, and knows she has arthritis as a result. She saw the class as a way to learn how to take even better care of herself, and to help alleviate some of her arthritis pain. Betty also shared that she exercises in the pool twice a week. 

Betty likes the fact that she lives independently and takes care of her own home and garden. She happily shared some of the tips she keeps with her every day. She always sits upright in her chair, and takes every opportunity to do the seated exercises the group learned in the class. She works her toes, her shoulders and makes a point of crossing her legs at the ankle instead of the knee (this helps with circulation issues). 

Becky shared that the class has really helped her think about her health. She pays attention to how she walks, how she holds her shoulders and how she sits – spine to the back of the chair, if you please. 

Becky ended our interview with a simple thought: 

“Anyone can benefit from this class. Anyone. Young or old – take the class. You will learn from it.”


Cecilia Miller
Cecilia Miller

I’ll Try Anything

by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging

Cecelia “Cece” Miller has lived by herself for the last three years.  Though her son keeps a key to her apartment “just in case,” Cece is on her own and is extremely proactive when it comes to her safety.  She retired in March of 2003, and by May of that year her pulmonary specialist directed her to be placed on oxygen.  Including the oxygen in her daily life has meant some changes, but Cece remains upbeat and in charge.

Cece is 67 years old and spends a fair amount of time at the Jimmy Dimora Community Center in Bedford Heights, Ohio. She learned about the Matter of Balance class while at the Center for a 60+ Club meeting. When she saw a sign on the counter promoting the class, she knew it would be a good idea. Learning how to be safe and prevent falls was on the top of her mind.  Just three short weeks before signing up for A Matter of Balance, she had sustained a fall in her home. 

Before her own fall, Cece had watched her mother work through the recovery process of a broken hip – caused by a fall while attending an event away from her home.  Her own fall, coupled with the memory of her mother’s struggle, made her decide that she would be willing to “try anything” to keep herself safe.

Cece took a lot of the exercise ideas away from the class and she regularly does chair exercises in her home.  She also tries to include a televised exercise show in her weekly training routine.  She shares what she has learned in the class with her eighty-plus year old mother.  They both benefit from her commitment to staying strong and safe.

Cece shared a great deal about the safety tips she learned in the class.  She has changed how she positioned her shower mat, and also started using a safer tub chair after hearing about one in the class.  The class went over moving telephone cords out of walkways, and Cece uses the same diligence when monitoring her oxygen tank cord.  The class discussed rug grips, and all participants had a word to share about avoiding ice during the winter.

When talking about the class, Cece had this to say, “It’s a lot to learn on safety.  It helps you to be more aware of how you’re stepping and your own movement.  It’s very interesting. Very.”  More importantly, she encourages people to make the commitment and to do what they need to do to keep themselves safe.  Seeing her own mother’s struggle with recovery from a fall was inspiration enough to keep her motivated.

Becky King
Becky King

Thirty minutes well spent

by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging

Becky King of Vernon, Texas, knows first hand how important exercise and strength training are to keeping her body safe.  She knows first hand because a fall taken shortly after completing her Matter of Balance class ended well.  Becky’s doctor said she would have surely broken her ankle if she had not used the techniques she learned in the class. 

Becky is on a mission. She tries to convince her friends that 30 simple minutes of exercise a day will help them preserve both their bodies and their independence. Becky notes that she has seen many friends fall and quickly lose the independence they so dearly cherish, and she made a conscious decision not to let that happen to her. 

Becky is 74 years young and prides herself on knowing how to react in a fall-situation. Becky took the Matter of Balance class from her good friend and Matter of Balance Master Trainer, Iva Belew.  Becky and Iva were discussing how they had observed their once-active friends lose their independence to falls, and they resolved to take action.  When Iva was trained to offer the Matter of Balance classes, Becky knew she would need to attend. Becky lives alone and is scared to face a fall that could either hospitalize her or send her to a nursing home. She decided to do everything she could to stay healthy, and happily made the commitment to the class – and her subsequent commitment to 30 minutes of exercise per day.

Becky reports that she saw results right away, especially in the strength in her ankles, legs and knees. She saw more muscle tone after just one week of the exercises. She tells her friends they need to “shape up.” She doesn’t encourage them to do it so they’ll be “sweater girls,” but so they will have conditioned muscles and the ability to hold up their body weight in the case of a fall.

Becky summed up the experience eloquently:
“It is most important you do the little things every day to strengthen your ankle and leg muscles.  They are your prime ways to successfully manage a fall.  If you don’t, you’re at the mercy of the fall – of gravity – of momentum.  If all it takes is 30 minutes a day to keep me strong – I’ll do it!”

Thirty minutes well spent, indeed.

Christyna Jensen
Christyna Jensen

Still Dancing at 77

by Shireen Shahawy, Consultant to Partnership for Healthy Aging

Christyna Jensen is a professional storyteller, and when asked to tell her own story regarding her experience with Matter of Balance - the words flow easily.

Christyna began dancing professionally at the age of eleven in Las Vegas, and performed on the Mickey Mouse Club Radio Show - talking and tap dancing. She continues to take dance classes even now, including belly dancing. She credits both her early years of dance training and her more recent Matter of Balance class with helping her make it through a fall she suffered at the end of 2010.

The class was presented by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department at the Silver Life Center, a few short steps away from Christyna's home. The class reminded her of the falls training she had received as a dancer earlier in her life. In fact, she demonstrated the fall techniques she had learned to her MOB classmates, and instructors were delighted to learn that they matched the Matter of Balance curriculum.

"Christyna played a big role in class the day we talked about the correct way to fall - hands forward, protecting your head," said Carleena Angwin, A Matter of Balance Master Trainer who facilitated the class. "She actually did 2-3 demonstrations in class for her classmates."

Little did Christyna know that a simple misstep on a curb would set her own fall into motion. Fortunately, she instinctively knew what to do. She knew how to roll, and more importantly, how to keep her head and face safe. Her doctor is quite certain the fall could have been fatal if she had not taken the proper steps to protect herself.

As Christyna recounts the story of her life, she keeps coming back to sing the praises of the Silver Life Center, and the Matter of Balance class offered by the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department. She said making new friends in the class was an extra benefit to refreshing the skills she had learned early in her dance career. She keeps a closer eye on every curb, and realizes this new attentiveness is keeping her both safe and active. It's a story she's proud to share.