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New campaign aims to reduce falls in senior population

Ashley Hirtzel

Buffalo’s Fillmore district launches a fall prevention initiative. The effort is being led by the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and Western New York Inc., government officials including councilmember David Franczyk, local businesses and community stakeholders.

The “Falls Prevention” campaign aims to reduce the amount of falls older adults experience in their home. It was kick-started with a free event for senior citizens to meet with eye care specialists, medical professionals, and various organizations to learn how to reduce or prevent injury related to falls.

In 2013, the Buffalo Fire Department responded to nearly 400 calls for fall related accidents in the Fillmore district alone. According to the Center for Disease Control one in three adults over the age of 65 will fall each year causing moderate to severe injuries, such as fractures and head trauma.

Executive Director of the Wellness Institute of Buffalo and Western New York Inc. Philip Haberstro says prevention begins with spreading awareness.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Fillmore District Councilmember David Franczyk, Executive Director of the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo Philip Haberstro, and Instructor Monica Zucco.

“It’s a big task. We did the data. We got the numbers from the Buffalo Fire Department and over 3,000 calls is the average for the last year that has been attributed to falls. And those are the ones we know about,” said Haberstro.

Councilmember Franczyk says simple changes inside the home can prevent injury or death in the senior population, including repairs to loose or frayed carpet and the removal of clutter.

“The city of Buffalo can do certain things. We have to make sure that our streets are properly plowed, the potholes are filled. A lot of calls that I receive many times from seniors are raised sidewalks from tree roots, cracked and broken sidewalks. There are things that people can do for example, have proper lighting outside the house,” said Franczyk.

Monica Zucco teaches better balance and fall prevention programs for seniors. She says exercise can also prevent or damper falls. He says various local senior centers offer classes that help the older adult population improve their strength.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
"Falls Prevention" initiative.

“Movement is really, really important for seniors to reduce their fear of falling, but also to kind of learn their limits in terms of movement. So, learning weight shifting activities, practicing moving their feet in all directions, and being able to respond to that external stimuli and environment around them is important,” said Zucco.

Zucco says she will be teaching the classes for seniors at various local community centers.

For more information on free classes near you contact the Erie County Department of Senior Services at (716) 858-8526 or contact the Wellness Institute of Greater Buffalo and WNY at (716) 851-4052.