Physical Therapy offers screenings for older adults

Western Carolina University is teaming up with the Jackson County Senior Center to help older adults stay steady and active.

Physical therapy associate professor Lori Schrodt and several WCU physical therapy graduate students will offer free screenings and recommendations on Friday, Sept. 18, and Friday, Oct. 23, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Jackson County Senior Center as part of the “Be Active and Stay Steady Program.” Participants can learn ways to increase strength and balance and build confidence.

The screenings and recommendations are sandwiched around Falls Prevention Awareness Day, which is observed on the first day of fall – Wednesday, Sept. 23.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans 65 and older fall each year. In 2013, the total cost of fall-related injuries was $34 billion and it is projected to reach $67.7 billion by 2020 as the population ages. Falls are also the leading cause of broken hips and head injuries for people 65 and older.

Studies show that various behavioral changes can significantly reduce falls among older adults, Schrodt said. Experts recommend:

• Participating in a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training and flexibility components.
• Consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment.
• Having medications reviewed periodically.
• Getting eyes and ears checked annually.
• Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.

For questions or to register for the free screenings and recommendations, contact the Jackson County Senior Center at 828-586-5494 and ask about the “Be Active and Stay Steady Program.” Pre-registration is required.