By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN In an effort to reduce the number of falls among seniors and help those living with chronic diseases, Cokato Charitable Trust is offering two programs starting this month at Edgewood Gables.
“Minnesota is leading the nation with the highest percentage of falls,” said Eric Johnson, housing manager for Cokato Charitable Trust.
According to statistics from the Minnesota Department of Health, the mortality rate in 2007 for falls in Minnesota exceeded the motor vehicle mortality rate for the first time.
“There is a big push in the state and across the nation to focus on prevention of falls among our seniors,” Johnson said.
With grant money through the Central Minnesota Council on Aging, Cokato Charitable Trust is able to offer programs that “address senior life issues in a fun, non-threatening way,” Johnson said.
Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 22 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Edgewood Gables is offering an eight-week session called “A Matter of Balance.”
This is an accredited program through Boston University which focuses on fall prevention and increasing overall strength in seniors 65 and older, according to Johnson, who is also one of the trainers for this program. Toni Thorson, owner of Wellspring Massage Therapy in Cokato, is also a trainer.
Participants will learn:
• to view falls and fear of falling as controllable,
• to set realistic goals for increasing activity,
• to make changes to one’s environment to reduce fall risk factors, and
• exercise techniques to increase strength and balance.
The program includes a half-hour of exercise and an hour-and-a-half of structured class time and socialization, according to Johnson.
Cokato seniors Marlys Ortquist and Gladys Peterson both participated in the introductory course last April and found it to be beneficial.
“I realized you have to keep moving,” Ortquist said, adding that the class was a good motivator to stay active.
Peterson agreed that “if you don’t use it, you lose it” and the class gave her a lot of “good hints” to do so.
The class really encourages seniors to be proactive about their physical strength, keeping them off the walker and out of a wheelchair for as long as possible, Johnson explained.
The program is also designed to help seniors feel more confident so they can do the things they want to do, like going to their grandchild’s sporting events, Johnson said.
It’s also an opportunity for seniors to socialize, hear real-life stories, and get some good advice from fellow program participants, Johnson commented.
Johnson encourages attendance by those who may have concerns about falling, have fallen in the past, or who want to improve their balance, flexibility, and overall strength.
“A Matter of Balance” runs through Wednesday, Nov. 10.
The second program offered at Edgewood Gables is “Living Well with Chronic Conditions,” a workshop designed and accredited through Stanford University to help those suffering from chronic diseases.
Such chronic conditions may include arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic pain, and anxiety.
• learn practical ways to deal with pain and fatigue,
• discover better nutrition and exercise choices,
• understand new treatment choices, and
• learn better ways to talk with one’s doctor and family about his or her health.
Trainers for “Living Well with Chronic Conditions” are Marion Lee, a trained medical assistant at Cokato Manor, and Thorson.
Participants will learn how to set their own goals and make a step-by-step plan to improve their health and life.
Run much the same way as the “Matter of Balance” program, minus the exercise component, participants will find the same socialization and camaraderie among one another, Johnson explained.
“Seeing people relate to one another during the discussion was a neat thing,” Johnson said.
“Living Well with Chronic Conditions” is a six-week program beginning Monday, Sept. 20 through Monday, Oct. 25 from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Edgewood Gables is independent senior housing located 600 Third Street East, Cokato.
Both programs are $8, but are refundable upon full completion of the program.
For more information or to register (space is limited), contact Johnson at (320) 286-2159.