What Is It?
Many older adults experience a fear of falling. People who develop this fear often limit their activities, which can result in physical weakness, making the risk of falling even greater. A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls is a program designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase activity levels among older adults.
A Matter of Balance includes eight two-hour sessions for a small group led by a trained facilitator. This nationally recognized program was developed at the Roybal Center at Boston University.
Who should attend A Matter of Balance Program?
The program was designed to benefit community-dwelling older adults who:
- Are concerned about falls
- Have sustained falls in the past
- Restrict activities because of concerns about falling
- Are interested in improving flexibility, balance and strength
- Are age 60 or older, ambulatory and able to problem solve
What are the components of A Matter of Balance?
A Matter of Balance is a structured group intervention that utilizes a variety of activities to address physical, social and cognitive factors affecting fear of falling and to teach fall prevention strategies. The activities include group discussion, problem-solving, skill building, assertiveness training, videotapes, sharing practical solutions and exercise training.
During the program, participants learn to:
- View falls and fear of falling as controllable (involves changing behavior with a focus on building falls self-efficacy, i.e., the belief that one can engage in an activity without falling).
- Set realistic goals for increasing activity (by instilling adaptive beliefs such as greater perceived control, greater confidence in one’s abilities and more realistic assessment of failures).
- Change their environment to reduce fall risk factors (uses a home safety evaluation and action planner to reduce fall risk hazards in the home and community).
- Promote exercise to increase strength and balance.
Each of the eight sessions is two hours in length, including a break for light refreshments. Early sessions focus on changing attitudes and self-efficacy before attempting changes in actual behavior. The exercise component, which begins in the third session, takes about 30 minutes of the session to complete.