A group of seniors apply the skills they have learned in the class "A Matter of Balance" at the Mabel American Legion.
A group of seniors apply the skills they have learned in the class "A Matter of Balance" at the Mabel American Legion.
Since early this summer, two groups, totaling about 20 area seniors, have reduced their fear of falling through a program called "A Matter of Balance," led by Lynn Sollien and Jolyn Mikesh.

Sollien is the head of the senior meals program in Mabel and Mikesh works at The Meadows Senior Living in Mabel.

The class was brought to Mabel as both Sollien and Mikesh took the program themselves in Winona through the Southeast Minnesota Area Agency on Aging (SEMAAA).

"A Matter of Balance" is an eight-session program developed by Boston University and is meant for seniors at or over 60 years of age. According to the program highlights, participants learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable, set realistic goals to increase activity, change their environment to reduce fall risk factors and exercise to increase strength and balance.

Sollien said the first couple sessions are preparations and goal setting, session three is exercise in preventing falls and the rest of the program is review and exercise.

"Every week we review the week before, and they (the participants) give each other ideas on how to help themselves," she added.

Between the fifth and eighth sessions, Kirsten Wyffels from the Mabel Clinic presented on managing potential falls. "She came here and talked to the people and told them how to get up off the floor if they fell," Sollien said.

The first program drew in between eight to 11 participants and was held at the Mabel American Legion from June 17 through July 15 prior to the senior meals at 10 a.m.

"They would come and exercise, and then eat and socialize," Sollien said.

The second class began Sept. 17 and ended on Oct. 11 and attracted between six to eight participants and was held at 4:30 p.m. at the Legion.

"They like it, that is why they (the participants) wanted to meet even after the class ended," Mikesh said.

Participants were also very enthusiastic about what they had leaned.

"It's great, helps limber up my joints and I do it at home (too)," said participant Evelyn Johnson.

Participant Jerome Gunderson said, "It's great, have not seen great results yet - but if I did not believe in it, I would not come."

When asked if they plan to hold another class, Sollien said they might be looking to bring the program to Spring Grove. "If they want us to (teach the class), we want to do it," Sollien said.

Those interested in participating in another class are asked to call either (507) 208-8816 or (507) 459-9356.

The program was provided at no cost to participants through Semcac.