United Way of Tarrant County has received a $602,779 federal grant for a new project called FREE (Falls Reduction Education and Empowerment) to help older adults prevent fall-related injuries.
The grant was one of only seven such grants awarded nationwide by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury among older adults. More than 60,000 Texans age 50 and older were hospitalized for a fall-related injury in 2011 alone.
Over the next two years, United Way of Tarrant County will work with eight Area Agencies on Aging, the Texas Falls Prevention Coalition and other organizations to offer the falls prevention program called A Matter of Balance in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and El Paso metropolitan areas. They will build upon existing aging, public health, health care and community resources.
A Matter of Balance is a proven series of eight free classes taught by certified coaches that help participants reduce their fear of falling, increase their strength, balance and activity level through exercise, and teach them how to protect themselves and recover if they do fall.
The class also builds confidence. As one participant put it, “I don’t have that fear anymore that if I fall, I’m going to break a hip and die.”
United Way’s Area Agency on Aging brought the A Matter of Balance program to Tarrant County in 2008, and it is part of the United Way of Tarrant County LIVE WELL health initiative. The LIVE WELL initiative offers the A Matter of Balance program through Senior Citizen Services of Greater Tarrant County. More than 2,600 local residents have graduated from the program. The FREE project is committed to helping at least 3,406 more Texans complete A Matter of Balance training by the end of August 2017.