A Matter of Balance

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 is an evidence-based program proven to reduce falls. 

During the class, participants learn to:  

  • View falls as controllable
  • Set goals for increasing activity
  • Make changes to reduce fall risk at home
  • Exercise to increase strength and balance

A Matter of Balance

A Matter of Balance is an 8-week structured group intervention that emphasizes practical strategies to reduce fear of falling and increase activity levels. Participants learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable, set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors, and exercise to increase strength and balance. 

Where Can It Be Offered?

A Matter of Balance is easy to implement in a variety of setting, such as senior centers, community centers, fitness organizations, parks and recreation facilities, churches, retirement communities, independent and assisted living residential facilities, and community colleges. Some sites offer A Matter of Balance Program as one of many benefits of being a member of that community.    

Who Should Participate in 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 55 or older, ambulatory and able to problem solve

What Is A Matter of Balance Class Like?

A Matter of Balance is a structured group workshop 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. The recommended class size for A Matter of Balance is 8-12 participants.  

  During the class, 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.  

What Do Participants Say About A Matter of Balance?

After completing A Matter of Balance, Maine participants demonstrated significant improvements in their levels of falls management, falls control, exercise and social limitations with regard to concerns about falling. 

Comments from A Matter of Balance class participants: 

  • "Together we learned very important facts and offerings that we can use to build happier, more carefree lives."    
  • "A Matter of Balance was most helpful - it made me more aware of what can be done to ensure safety at home. The class provided a definite time each week to meet and discuss concerns with others. I wish we had even more exercise activities at each class. Great to share and learn!" 
  • "I'm already noticing a difference in my physical being. I'm sure I'm a little more mobile than I had been and plan to continue these exercises. Hopefully, I'll be jumping over the moon - soon!" 
  • "I'm picking up my feet more when I walk. I'm not trying to carry all my groceries at once into my home. I'm using a cane more when I walk on my lawn. I'm turning on more lights as I travel in my home." 
  • "I feel better about being careful. My confidence has risen. And I am being more assertive and feel good about it, not intimidated." 
  • "Talked to my doctor about my medication causing me to be dizzy at times. She made a change." 

Sandy's Story

Sandy shares how the Matter of Balance program helped her regain her ability to participate in the activities she enjoys. 

Who Leads A Matter of Balance Class?

  A Matter of Balance is led by two coaches who complete an eight-hour training program. Becoming A Matter of Balance coach is easy. A Matter of Balance Coach training is available to any community member, including staff and volunteers.    

Click here to learn more about becoming A Matter of Balance Program Leader.

IMPLEMENT THIS PROGRAM

A MATTER OF BALANCE AT YOUR ORGANIZATION

START HERE: A Matter of Balance Engagement Agreement

We are here to make setting up A Matter of Balance at your organization a very straight-forward process.

Through the grant, we have several resources available.

If you do not have a trained leader at your organization, we may be able to make arrangements to provide them for you. 

Please contact our Programs Coordinator,  Victoria Powers who is equipped to guide you and your organization through the implementation process for A Matter of Balance.

Click here for the Program Implementation page