I want to talk to you today about the Matter
of Balance program. Matter of Balance is a fall-prevention program for seniors based
on research from Maine’s Partnership for Healthy Aging. UMaine Extension is one of
the partners that teaches the classes. Many older adults in Maine experience the
concerns about falling and restrict their activities. Some facts about falls:
More than one-third of adults age 65 and older fall each year
Of those who fall, 20-30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries such as hip fractures
and head traumas So what can seniors do to reduce their risk
of falling? They can increase their body strength and improve their balance through regular
exercise. We encourage you to make physical activity a part of your life every day. Before
starting any exercise program, always check in with your health care professional.
Today, two Matter of Balance participants, Ron and Shirley, will demonstrate some of
the Matter of Balance exercises. We’re going to start by doing a few exercises while seated.
The “Good Morning” stretch: Stretch your arms wide, take a deep breath and exhale.
Stretch some more, gently turning to the left and then to the right. Repeat for five to
10 repetitions. This exercise will improve the range of motion of the shoulders and upper
back. Foot Circles: Sit with both feet on the floor,
raise one foot and gently rotate your foot in a clockwise direction. Change direction
and repeat five times per foot. The ankle is one of the most important balance joints.
Now we are going to show you a couple of exercises to do while standing.
Heel Raises: While holding onto the back of a chair, place your feet shoulder-width apart
and lift your heels, rising up on your toes. Return to the floor. Repeat five to 10 times.
This is a great exercise to strengthen your legs and ankles.
Marching in Place: Start marching, raising your knees up. This exercise improves balance
and physical endurance. These are just a few exercises from the Matter
of Balance program. Matter of Balance can help reduce the fear of falling and increase
activity levels of older adults. If you are interested in learning more about Matter of
Balance, please contact your local UMaine Extension office.
For more information, please call UMaine Extension Washington County, 1-800-287-1542. A Matter
of Balance was developed by Boston University with funding from the National Institute on
Aging. Translation of the program was led by MaineHealth’s Partnership for Healthy
Aging with UMaine Extension serving as one of the educational outreach partners.