Seniors learn to reduce fear of falling through balance class

Parishioners from Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf learn various moves to work on balance and stability to reduce the fear of falling through a class offered by Genesis Health Systems.

By Anne Marie Amacher

BETTENDORF — A program to help seniors reduce their fear of falling and increase their stability has been balancing out at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. Genesis Health Systems in Davenport offers the Matter of Balance (MOB) course to parishes and other groups.

Jennifer Hovey and Diane Johnson, certified therapeutic recreational specialists at Genesis, lead the classes at Lourdes and are trained in the Matter of Balance, a nation-wide program.

Ten members signed up for the eight-week class which met for two hours each week in the parish’s faith formation room. Class size is limited to 12.


Hovey and Johnson began each session with a talk about the goals for that day. For the March 31 class, goals included learning about a personal action planner, incorporating MOB exercises into an individualized exercise program, recognizing misconceptions about falling, the effects those fears have on seniors, and learning to shift from self-defeating to self-motivating thoughts.

Following goal-setting, the eight members in attendance began MOB exercises that included some standing and some sitting activities. The instructors explained, demonstrated and did the exercises with participants.  While one instructor demonstrated, the other made sure exercises were being done correctly or offered suggestions to make the exercises easier or more challenging. Exercises focused on legs, ankles, shoulders, neck, back and hips. “Flexibility is the key to balance,” Johnson said.

Following a snack of fruit, trail mix and water, the participants listened to Hovey and Johnson talk about various subjects and confidence-building skills. Discussion about personal exercise plans focused on goal setting, taking action, asking what materials and assistance might be needed and possible problems and solutions.

“You can incorporate some of these exercises into your daily routine while shopping,” Johnson said. But don’t exercise while driving, the instructors quipped. That advice drew laughter from the participants.

Walking in addition to the other exercises will help with balance, participants were told. “So, park farther away at the store,” Hovey said. “While watching television, add a few exercises, too. You just need to be open-minded and willing.”

The group did some role playing and learned that if they just sit around they will get weaker. Muscles weaken without activity. MOB exercises help build muscle, which leads to better balance. Participants learned how to get out of their chairs easier and received tips to make life a little easier at home.

Audrey Colson said she enjoyed the class. “I’ve had knee problems for seven years and the doctor says there is nothing wrong with it. It hurts. I decided to give this a try and I think the exercise helps. I do have a fear of falling, so I am learning how to address that fear.”

MOB classes also provide seniors with some socialization, help alleviate fears about falling, and offer tips on adjustments tailored to their personal needs, the instructors said. “It gets them to stop and think,” Hovey noted. Homework is assigned during each class. It might be going over a check list or coming up with a personalized plan of exercise.

For more information on Matter of Balance, contact Kelly Sigler at Genesis at (563) 421-2915. There is a cost for the class.

Support The Catholic Messenger’s mission to inform, educate and inspire the faithful of the Diocese of Davenport – and beyond! Subscribe to the print and/or e-edition, or make a one-time donation, today!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted on