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Falls are not inevitable

BASE program aims to improve balance, to help prevent falls

A BASE (Balance, Agility, Strength, Endurance) exercise class at All Cultures Equal Community Center on Monday, January 27, 2020 in Webster City, Iowa. Photo by Brendan Hoffman

September is Fall Prevention Awareness Month

September is Fall Prevention Awareness Month and according to the Iowa Falls Prevention Coalition, falls are preventable and not inevitable.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, in Iowa, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Overall, each year, 569 Iowans over the age of 65 die from fall-related injuries and over $262 million is spent for fall-related hospitalizations each year in the state, according to the IDPH.

To bring awareness to the importance of fall prevention, Gov. Kim Reynolds is expected to sign a proclamation on Monday, declaring Sept. 21 to 20 as Falls Prevention Awareness Week.

A local agency has been working for the past six years to help seniors maintain balance and prevent falls. Central Iowa RSVP offers BASE senior fitness exercise programs across Hamilton and Webster counties. BASE, which stands for Balance, Agility, Strength and Endurance, is a free program offered in communities across both counties, according to Becky Koppen, volunteer coordinator for Central Iowa RSVP.

“Balance is the key focus of BASE,” Koppen said. “All the exercises we do really do help with balance. All the strengthening that you do helps with balance.”

Koppen related that often when the groups do heel-toe walking around the room, many participants reach for the chair backs to ensure their stability as they walked.

“After doing that exercise for a couple of months, we looked around and nobody was holding onto the chairs. It made a difference and made them feel more confident about their balance,” she said.

BASE groups in Hamilton County are held at the United Church of Christ in Blairsburg, Jewell’s Montgomery Library and at the United Church of Christ, at the Stanhope Community Center, at Athens Woods Estates in Stratford and the Williams Public Library. Groups also met at All Cultures Equal, Crestview Apartments, Faith United Methodist Church, Fuller Hall Recreation Center, Southfield Assisted Living Apartments, Trinity Lutheran Church and Webster Community and Senior Center.

In Webster County, groups gather in Fort Dodge at Wahkonsa Plaza. Dayton at the Senior Center, at the Duncombe Community Center and planning was underway to start a group in Gowrie.

“We were ready to start one up in Gowrie in April,” Koppen said.

Then COVID-19 arrived.

The BASE program gatherings went on hiatus in March and the groups haven’t met since that time.

“People are so looking forward to getting back into BASE, but none of us feel that we’re quite there yet,” she said.

She’s looking into some options that might allow at least one of the groups to start up again.

“I’m looking forward to the day when we can safely meet again and get back into the BASE exercises,” Koppen said.

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