Monday, September 10, 2018
by Anne Shaw Heinrich
BJC | When Alice McHugh fell a few months ago, breaking a bone in her foot, she was just going about her daily routine. Even with the extensive knowledge she’s gained over the years through her work as a volunteer facilitator for falls prevention classes with St. Louis Oasis, she was caught off guard.
“I was going through the same door I come in and out of all the time,” McHugh says. “But I was distracted, in a hurry and carrying something. I just wasn’t paying attention.”
McHugh is on the mend, but her experience has added a new level of understanding and sense of urgency to her work as she heads back to the classroom to educate others on how to avoid falls. In addition to leading a number of classes, McHugh agreed to participate in the development of a falls prevention campaign being launched by Oasis just in time for Falls Prevention Awareness Day, which is the first day of autumn, Sept. 21. She was willing to tell her story and share what she knows about falls prevention in a video that’s featured on the Oasis website and has been distributed to older adults nationwide who participate in Oasis programs in nine cities.
She was joined in the video by Barnes-Jewish Hospital acute care surgeon Laurie Punch, MD, associate professor of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Punch works regularly with patients who have been injured as a result of falling.
“Falls are unfortunately an incredibly common event in the lives of people over the age of 55,” she says.
“The overwhelming number of the falls that I see happen to people who are just doing everyday life.”
In the video, both women stress the importance of taking steps to prevent falls, including careful monitoring of medicines, removing fall hazards from the home and, most importantly, strengthening the body for better balance through exercise. Both point to Oasis as a go-to resource for falls prevention.
“With prevention through education and exercise, falls can be prevented,” adds Dr. Punch. “Classes like the Oasis falls prevention program offer a great opportunity for you to tone your body, get your balance and be able to do the things you want to do on a day-to-day basis safely. Falls prevention classes work, and they are far more effective at treating trauma than I am in the trauma bay.”
St. Louis Oasis will offer Pay Attention to Falls Prevention, a free event to be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Sept. 21, at the Maryland Heights Community Center, 2300 McKelvey Road. The event will include falls risk assessments, flu vaccinations, a light lunch and more. To find out more about the event, call 314-862-4859 or visit www.oasisnet.org/St-Louis-MO.
Click here to view the video. For other falls prevention resources, visit https://www.oasisnet.org/National-Programs/Health-Programs/Fall-prevention.
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