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Balance class helps Ashwood Square residents prevent falls

Ashwood Square is helping residents improve their balance and confidence with an exercise class.

The World Health Organization says falls are a major public health problem. Adults, older than 65 years of age, suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.

But there are ways seniors can lessen their chances of falling, like balance class. 

"Balance is what we focus on here. We're gaining confidence, and doing certain movements with balance. {We are} also trying to increase strength and improve the ability to walk better," said Luke Mathews with ARC Therapy Services.

Luke Mathews is an occupational therapist. He says he's happy with the progress he's seen in his classes at Ashwood Square Retirement Community.  

"Rather than being sedentary, they are being active and working on their balance. So hopefully, they'll be able to prevent a fall and prevent some of those hospital stays and some of those healthcare expenditures," Mathews added.  

96-year-old Robert Myers has been active his entire life. He's a retired physician and now a resident at Ashwood Square. He says he appreciates this balance class.  

 "I think this program is great," Myers said. "As we age, we tend to lose muscle strength and our balance, and this helps us keep going."  

For resident Donna Hobbs, who also enjoys being active, the balance class has helped even more.
"So I've noticed each class I'm making a slight amount of improvement, and it's so nice," Hobbs said. "When you're lifting weights you don't get immediate feedback, but with this, I feel like I'm getting feedback."  

"What people have told me 'Yes, I have improved. Yes, I've gained more confidence,'" Mathews added. "'Yes, I'm moving more' and to me, that's an indication that yes, it's effective. Yes, it's working."
This balance class seems to be just what the doctor ordered.  

"All the studies indicate that being active as we age has very important aspects on our health; not only on balance and preventing falls, but on our general health and our longevity," Myers said.  

If you are interested in improving your overall health, Mathews recommends finding classes that are geared toward balance or something like Tai Chi. He says the YMCA is a good place to start.  

If you are experiencing balance issues, contact your doctor first. Physical therapy could help and vision problems could be to blame. An eye exam and new glasses could also help.  

Mathews says if you have any other questions to contact him via email at or call him at 865-803-6988.

This story previously published and aired on WRCB-TV here.

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