In Spanish, “paso” means “step” and so it seems fitting that Rick and Marianne Paso are so passionate about the Stepping On program at North Memorial Health. They knew that as they got older they were at increased risk for a fall. “I’ve seen a lot of older people fall and their quality of life goes down as a result,” says Rick. In fact, fall-related injuries are the number one reason older adults are admitted to North Memorial Health Hospital for trauma services.
In addition to treating injuries, North Memorial Health’s Trauma Team is committed to preventing them before they ever happen. With an alarming 25% increase in fall-related admissions over the past six years, the team knew they had to address this preventable trend. Last year, with generous grant support from the Stevens Square Foundation, they launched the Stepping On program with the goal of reducing falls and subsequent hospital visits for seniors to better maintain their independence and self-sufficiency for as long as possible.
This evidence-based program includes a series of workshops that addresses risks and builds confidence in older adults. Participants learn about balance exercises, home modifications, community safety, vision changes, medication side effects, safe footwear, and sleep habits—many of which participants are surprised to hear can cause falls. North Memorial Health experts including a Pharmacist, Physical Therapist, and Community Paramedics also discuss and demonstrate ways that older adults can minimize their risk for a fall.
As for Rick, he was surprised when the class helped him identify that he has very weak balancing muscles. He continues to do the exercises he learned and is so convinced of the importance of this program that he became a volunteer trainer.
Rick has taught over 35 of his peers about how they can stay safe and healthy in their communities and says, “This class summarizes so much simple and useful information in a manner that is easy for elderly to understand and practice, and the benefits of a higher quality of life are so evident”.
Due to high demand, North Memorial Health has expanded the program more quickly by training community partner organizations so they can also host Stepping On courses. Our medical and public health experts continue to provide expertise for these courses as well.
Rick sums up the program in one word: hope. “After going through this program, I have more hope that my quality of life can last longer. I want to keep what I have as long as I can.”
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