Sept. 22 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. Each year, it’s estimated that one out of three Americans aged 65 or older will suffer a fall, leaving many of these adults with a fear of falling that can cause them to limit physical activities. This leads to reduced mobility, diminished quality of life, and actually increases their risk of falling. The good news is that falls are preventable.

The Westfield Area YMCA is committed to helping older adults safely get active and learn about fall risk.  The Y is hosting a free Balance Screening open to the community 12:30 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at the Main Y Facility located at 220 Clark Street, Westfield. This free screening by a physical therapist from AmeriCare Physical Therapy also offers tips on fall prevention and balance exercises.  The CDC also suggests these basic lifestyle and safety changes to help reduce risk or prevent falls: begin an exercise program to improve your leg strength & balance; ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines; get annual eye check-ups & update your eyeglasses; make your home safer by: removing clutter & tripping hazards; putting railings on all stairs & adding grab bars in the bathroom; installing proper lighting, especially on stairs.

“It is extremely important to work on balance as we age to prevent falls and avoid injury. Our health & wellness group exercise classes incorporate balance work to help  prevent injuries and improve general health. Working the smaller stabilizing muscle groups become even more important as we age," said Jean White, Westfield Area YMCA health & wellness director.

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The Balance Screening is free and open to the community.  Please contact Jean White with any questions at 908-301-YMCA (9622) x 246 or at jwhite@westfieldynj.org. Learn more about Westfield Area YMCA programs at www.westfieldynj.org

The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.