Falls are common. One in four Americans age 65+ falls each year.

Falls are also costly. In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion – a figure that researchers predict may double by 2020.

Here’s the good news: Falls can be preventable. Learn how to prevent falls by attending two special events in September as Aging Partners recognizes National Fall Prevention Awareness Month:

- Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance and Qigong classes, featuring movements designed to build strength and improve balance in an effort to prevent falls, will be offered at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively, on Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the Gateway Mall Food Court, 6100 O St. Aging Partners Health and Fitness staff will be available from 8 to 10:30 a.m. with fall prevention tips and information about upcoming classes.

- Aging Partners and CHI Health St. Elizabeth Sports & Physical Therapy will kick off autumn with a Fall Prevention Clinic Open House from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 at St. Elizabeth Sports & Physical Therapy – Antelope Creek, 2510 S. 40th St., Suite 200. Come for a free breakfast and receive a fall screening, blood pressure check, strength analysis, balance screening, home safety tips, and Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance demonstrations (at 9 and 10:30 a.m.)

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Injury Prevention Program is partnering with the other sponsors to stage the events.

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Raising awareness

“The significance of a fall goes far beyond the immediate medical costs,” said Marlys Freese, PT, Geriatric Certification, at St. Elizabeth Sports & Physical Therapy. “The cost of a fall is not just financial. It also includes emotional challenges for the injured person and his or her family. Family dynamics can change significantly when a person becomes more dependent as a result of an injury-related fall.”

Screenings and free public events such as the two events next month are designed to raise awareness and reduce the likelihood of a fall.

Both events are great opportunities to discover the benefits of Tai Chi Moving for Better Balance, said Peggy Apthorpe, director of the Aging Partners Health and Fitness Program. “Falls are not a normal part of aging – they can be prevented,” she said.

At both events, attendees can participate or simply observe the classes. Movements are designed to build strength and improve balance. For a look at September classes, go to aging.lincoln.ne.gov and check out next week’s Neighborhood Extra.

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L Magazine editor

Mark Schwaninger is L magazine and Neighborhood Extra editor.

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