Belfast fall-prevention classes ‘heaven sent’ for over 65s

“They are like angels sent from heaven – when you are at your wits’ end and have no hope, they gave me hope.”

Marie Thompson, 66, ended up in hospital after falling on a footpath while delivering Christmas cards.

She lost her confidence and did not want to go out walking by herself.

But after taking part in the Belfast Trust’s strength and balance programme for over-65s who have fallen or fear falling, she is now able to leave her house and go walking alone.

The 12-week programme is open to anyone in the Belfast Trust area, over the age of 65, who has had a GP referral.

The classes run continuously and usually last about 60 minutes.

Eamon Doherty is a physio with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and he helped to design the programme.

He said while people are very aware of the physical aspects of falls, there is also a mental-health aspect.

Mr Doherty said very often people experience anxiety that can build into what he calls “a worry cycle”.

He added people stop doing daily activities because they fear they can’t – which means they not only lose their sense of balance and muscle mass but they also become more socially withdrawn.

He said the aim of the programme was to get people back out into the open and expose them to potential falls – so they can address the risk factors.

Francis Murphy, aged 74, has experienced several falls on ice – one of which resulted in a broken wrist, which she said made her lose confidence.

She said the programme had made her more confident and that she enjoys the social aspect.

Since attending the balance classes, she has started visiting the gym for the first time in her life, something she would never have done before she attended the balance programme, she said.


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