Classes held at Yuba City Senior Center address falling fears

May 10—At the Yuba City Senior Center, Agency on Aging Area 4, which serves aging adults and adults with disabilities, is facilitating free A Matter of Balance classes.

A Matter of Balance is a program designed to reduce the fear of falling and encourage increased activity among older adults.

According to a flyer for the senior center, attendees will learn to view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, make changes to reduce fall risks and exercise to increase strength and balance.

"Particularly somewhere like the Yuba City Senior Center, a lot of these people that come there for classes, they come for other classes too. So, a lot of times, they know each other already," a program administrator for Agency on Aging Area 4, Nancy Vasquez, said. "They're sitting down with their friends and neighbors a lot of the time; they're much more likely to be open, relaxed and comfortable about talking openly about their risks. Most of them also know someone who has fallen, and that's why they are there."

Helping to reduce falling fear is a big part of the classes.

"We know that there's a cycle of fear: the more afraid that you are of falling, the more likely that you are to fall, the more likely you are to not get the exercise because you're afraid of falling," Vasquez said. "Many of us know people that are in that situation. My mother is one of them. She doesn't go outside to walk because she's afraid of falling. So again, she's getting weaker and she doesn't exercise."

The program teaches chair exercises and standing exercises.

Vasquez does not teach anymore, but she said that when she was younger and used to teach fall prevention, she found that having something in common with the audience made a big difference. Vasquez said she has a hidden disability, which makes her balance a little off.

"I would ask a question, and I would raise my hand with everybody else. Do you take more than four or more medications? Have you fallen in the last six months? I've raised my hand even as a younger instructor, again, back then, a while ago," Vasquez said. "It builds rapport with people."

The agency's health promotion coordinator, Christina Mason, teaches classes at the Yuba City Senior Center. She also has a personal connection to falling concerns. Her mother-in-law is an older adult with mobility issues.

"She is the type who loves to be independent, even though I know there are times when you do not need to lug 50 pounds of dog food," Mason said. "She'll get help from the grocery store people, but getting it back in the house, I'm like, how are you getting this back in the house? So I always tell her, don't hesitate to (text me)."

Mason encourages people to ask for help.

"Every class, I get someone saying, I don't want to be a bother," Mason said. "Don't be afraid to ask for help."

Classes are held in person on Thursdays for two hours each week at the Yuba City Senior Center, located at 777 Ainsley Ave. in Yuba City. The first class was on May 9, and the last class will be on June 27. You can register for classes by calling the Yuba City Senior Center at 530-822-4608.