Matter of Balance

Many older adults experience a fear of falling. People who develop this fear often limit their activities, which can result in physical weakness, making the risk of falling even greater.

Matter of Balance, a nationally recognized program developed at the Roybal Center at Boston University, helps to reduce and stop the fear of falling cycle and increase activity levels among community-dwelling older adults.

The program is designed for small groups of older adults living independently in community settings or senior housing. Trained community health educators conduct the classes using an extensively detailed training manual and two instruction videos.

matterofbalanceIn eight two-hour sessions, participants learn to:

  • View falls as controllable.
  • Set goals for increasing activity.
  • Make changes to reduce fall risk at home.
  • Exercise to increase strength and balance.

Preliminary findings of the participant outcome evaluation show significant improvements for participants regarding their level of falls management (the degree of confidence participants perceive concerning their ability to manage the risk of falls and of actual falls); falls control (the degree to which participants perceive their ability to prevent falls); level of exercise; and social limitations with regard to concern about falling.

These measures indicate that the program has been successful in reducing the fear of falling by increasing participants’ confidence to better manage falls risk and actual falls if they occur. They can take action to help reduce the risk of falling. In addition, participants indicated that their concerns about falling are interfering less with their social activity, and they report that they have increased their exercise levels (Healy, McMahon, & Haynes, 2006; Healy, Peng, Haynes, McMahon, Botler, & Gross, 2008).

Matter of Balance in other languages:

  • Spanish: Called ‘Asunto de Equilibrio’ the workshop is imparted by Spanish speaking trained community health educators with translated materials and videos.

For more information visit Matter of Balance.

Participant comments:

My legs and balance are stronger. I’m starting to do more exercises.

66 year old female

Pointing our obstacles and how to avoid them in daily life was helpful.

76 year old male

The exercises that were taught help a lot and I have continued them because I truly am stronger and have more flexibility.

70 year old female