No one wants to be Mrs. Fletcher screaming, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” Sure, it’s a laughable cliche from that hokey Lifecall commercial, but it’s also a very real fear for the community’s elderly population.
In effort to mitigate such risks and help older adults stay healthy and active, Stony Brook University Hospital will be offering its Stepping On program, which can reduce the risk of falling by 50 percent, for the second year at the Stony Brook Southampton campus.
The seven-week workshop provides exercises and strategies for seniors age 60 and older who have fallen in the past, are at risk of falling and who fear they may fall. Suffolk County has the highest average annual incident rate of fall trauma in New York and one in four adults age 65 and older fall each year nationally.
The physical, financial and emotional costs of such a fall can be overwhelming. However, falls are not a normal part of the aging process and can be prevented.
Participants will receive support and encouragement from trained Stony Brook University Hospital physical therapists, students and each other as they regain the confidence to stay active. Physical Therapist MaryJo Kaleda is joining the workshop once again to help individuals recognize their risk of falling, rebuild physical strength and provide practical skills in a fun, hands-on environment.
“Stepping On is an evidence-based program that empowers older adults to remain on their feet through education of fall risk factors and the use of exercise, including the importance of staying active,” Kaleda says. “Over the course of seven weeks, participants and instructors learn from each other as they share experiences that promote activity every day.”
Wayne Snell completed the workshop at the East Setauket location in 2016 after experiencing several falls. “The program changed my life,” Snell said. “I’m no longer afraid I’m going to fall. I still do the exercises every week. It’s a lifelong assignment.” After completing the program, he even volunteered as a peer tutor for others in his community, sharing valuable lessons about fall prevention.
Stepping On will begin March 23 and continue every Friday for seven weeks from 10 a.m.–12 p.m. at the Stony Brook Southampton Library (39 Tuckahoe Road) in Southampton. To register or for more information, visit trauma.stonybrookmedicine.edu or call 631-444-8385.