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During the month of September, National Falls Prevention Week is observed, a national campaign to educate older adults, their caregivers, and health professionals about the dangers of falling and the steps to prevent falls.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls remain a leading cause of injury for people aged 65 and older. Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. The good news is that they are preventable and there are proven steps people can take to reduce their risk.

Historically, the Area Agency on Aging District 7 and the Shawnee State University Occupational Therapy Program have worked together to provide falls prevention education to the community through the AAA7’s “Matter of Balance” falls prevention program. Students have become trained in the program and help to facilitate the course to interested community members in the district as a part of their class requirements. At the present time, due to social distancing recommendations and health protocols in place during the current pandemic, in-person wellness classes with the AAA7 have not been able to be held; therefore, not making the opportunity possible for OT students to participate in providing education to the community as a part of their class requirements.

Thankfully, a solution was developed to provide this education through a virtual format on the Area Agency on Aging District 7’s Facebook page. Starting on Friday, Sept. 11 at 10 a.m., the Area Agency on Aging District 7 will feature “Fall-Free Fridays,” a live, weekly interview with two Shawnee State University OT students who will provide community education on a falls-related topic and information about falls, risk factors, and helpful prevention tips. The AAA7 plans to share this information on their website at www.aaa7.org and also offer a “Fall-Free Friday Fact” weekly on the AAA7 Facebook page and website.

“The opportunity for our students to partner with AAA7 to provide health promotion activities to older adults has always been an incredible learning experience,” said Christine Raber, a professor in the Master of Occupational Therapy Program at Shawnee State.

“We are very excited and grateful that technology will allow these real-life experiences to continue, and look forward to helping the community learn about ways to prevent falls.”

“We have often heard that ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention,’ and this pandemic has provided ample opportunity to find new ways to continue to provide services and information to older adults, persons with disabilities and those who care for them,” said Nina R. Keller, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging District 7.

“We are extremely grateful that the Occupational Therapy Program at Shawnee State University has joined us in developing and carrying out innovative ways to reach individuals in the community with critical guidance on falls and their prevention. Innovation is key and we value our ongoing partnership with SSU.”

Fall-Free Fridays will be featured for 13 weeks starting Sept. 11 and ending Dec. 4. If you have questions about how to access the virtual education or recording, or for more information about falls prevention, contact the AAA7 at 1-800-582-7277 or email info@aaa7.org.

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