A group of hip-hop line dancers called the Steppin’ Grannies strutted their stuff in Sundance Square Plaza on Tuesday to bring awareness to falling, a serious problem among the elderly.
“Everybody has at least one family member who has had at least one fall or [is] suffering the consequences of a direct fall,” said Nicoleta Bugnariu, a physical therapy faculty member at the University of North Texas Health Science Center who heads Fort Worth’s Falls Prevention Task Force.
Amanda Robbins, chairwoman of the Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition, said city and county groups have numerous programs that address fall prevention, including universities, emergency response agencies, hospitals and senior centers.
Everybody has at least one family member who has had at least one fall or suffering the consequences of a direct fall.
Nicoleta Bugnariu, Fort Worth’s Falls Prevention Task Force
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“We are looking for awareness,” Robbins said. “Falls are preventable if you know what to do.”
Numerous organizations participated in Tuesday’s event, including the safe communities coalition, Senior Citizen Services of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Emergency Services Collaborative. Before the event, Tarrant County commissioners proclaimed Sept. 23-29 as Fall Prevention Awareness Week.
But the stars of the day were the Steppin’ Grannies, a group of grandmothers ages 60 and older, and the Dukes of Uke and the Uke-A-Ladies, a ukulele band from the White Settlement Senior Center.
The Steppin’ Grannies formed in 2006 to highlight the importance of staying active to prevent fall injuries.
Sonia Barrett, who teaches dance to the seniors, ranging in age from 60 to 87, at Fellowship Corner Senior Center in Fort Worth, said family members enjoy the troupe, too, because they want to keep their older kin “safe, secure, and independent.”
Barrett danced proudly with her mother, Reather Barrett, 80, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
“Her doctor said as long as she can keep going, keep going,” Sonia Barrett said.
This generation has outlived the previous generation and we need to take action to protect the older adults we care about.
Hazel Jordon of the Steppin’ Grannies
The long-term consequences of fall injuries, such as hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries, can undermine the health and independence of older adults.
According to national statistics:
▪ One in 3 people 65 and older takes a tumble, accounting for 13.5 percent of emergencies in that age group.
▪ Those who fall are two or three times as likely to fall again.
▪ The risk of falling increases with each decade of life. One in 5 people who break a hip in a fall after age 50 dies within a year.
$30 billion Cost of fall injuries among people 65 and over, adjusted for inflation
The Fort Worth Fire Department had about 3,500 calls last year related to falls at home, statistics show. Many were repeat callers, and many did not want or require medical assistance, only “lift help.”
MedStar spokesman Matt Zavadsky said his organization has several programs geared toward preventing and coping with falls.
Every ambulance call to a patient over 65 is logged, and an intern from the University of North Texas calls from the 9-1-1 Call Center to see whether the family is interested in learning how to prevent falls.
“If the answer is yes, we provide a number to the Fort Worth Fire Department, which through their fire education services can schedule an appointment to assess the home and provide fall prevention advice,” Zavadsky said. “Then we track that person for about a year to see if the program has been effective.”
3,500 Approximate calls the Fort Worth Fire Department received last year related to people falling in their homes
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367
Steps for home safety
How to help prevent falls at home:
▪ Remove anything you can trip over (such as papers, books, clothes and shoes) from stairs and walking areas.
▪ Install handrails and lights on all staircases.
▪ Remove small throw rugs or use double-sided tape to keep them from slipping.
▪ Keep frequently used items in cabinets that you can reach without a step stool.
▪ Put grab bars inside and next to the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet.
▪ Use nonslip mats in the tub and on shower floors.
▪ Improve the lighting in your home. As you age, you need brighter lights to see well. Hang lightweight curtains or shades to reduce glare.
▪ Wear shoes both inside and outside the house. Avoid going barefoot or wearing slippers.
Source: Centers for Disease Control