Free program in Salt Lake City aims to prevent falls among senior citizens

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Falling down is a big problem, especially as we age, which is why the Salt Lake County Health Department is teaming up with local firefighters to offer a free fall prevention course.

"It only takes one fall to dramatically change your life, undermine your independence, and significantly affect your health in negative ways,” said Cindy Elliot of the Salt Lake County Health Department.

And the chances of falling are pretty good: one in every three people 65 years of age or older will fall this year. People who fall have a greater chance of falling again. And falls account for two-thirds of deaths from injuries in those 65 and over.

Residents interested in the course had an introductory session this past Wednesday ahead of the first real session on July 1.

John McKay is 88 and still very active, but he said his balance isn't what it used to be.

"I think it might be a good idea just to find out ways to prevent me from falling basically, I’m a little concerned about that at my age," he said.

Class participants learn common sense things, like how vision problems and certain medications can lead to falls. They also learn exercises to improve their balance.

"Most importantly, we have a physical therapist [who] comes to several of the classes to help each individual adapt the exercises to their own situation,” Elliot said.

The Salt Lake City Fire Department is pleased to sponsor the program because they are called out on so many falls.

"There's very simple things they can learn, from putting lights in different places so you can see where you're going, to, if your older, increasing your strength, to improve their balance, things like that,” said Capt. Dave Chugg of the SLC Fire Department.

The program is aimed at people 65 and older, but anyone can come and family members or caregivers are especially welcome. The eight-week course is free, and the workshops will be held at downtown Fire Station No. 1, located at 211 South 500 East in Salt Lake City. The sessions are held weekly on Wednesdays from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

According to a press release: “TO PARTICIPATE or for more information on this and more upcoming Stepping On classes in Salt Lake County, please call or email Carol Avery at 385-468-387, csavery@slco.org, or Cindy Elliot, 385-468-3917, celliot@slco.org. You may also register at the downtown Salt Lake City Fire Station 1: 801-799-3594, or just come to the Get Acquainted Session on June 24. Registration closes after Session 1 on July 1.”