Susan Cohen, MPT
Susan Cohen, MPT, knows all too well about the dangers of falls for seniors. Her own mother, an independent and active 88-year-old, tripped on a throw rug when she went to answer a phone call. Unfortunately, the fall caused a major health setback and she passed away about a year later.
This experience has made educating seniors about the dangers of falls and how to prevent them very personal. As part of Bacharach’s Otago Fall Prevention program, she travels around South Jersey to senior centers, church groups, and senior groups to talk about balance issues and falling. The bottom line is to keep seniors fall-free and safe.
During the presentations, Susan talks about how balance enables your body to stay upright as the environment changes around you. “When we’re young, it’s easy but when we get older, our body may not respond as well,” says Susan. “Your balance is like a three-legged stool: based on your eyes, inner ear and receptors in your joints. When one of these areas is off, balance is likely to be affected.”
Screening is the First Step
Following her talk, she offers seniors an opportunity to make an appointment to be screened for their fall risk. The 15-minute screening assesses strength, endurance, static balance (standing without holding onto anything), and dynamic balance (movement such as walking, going up a curb or ramp).
Approved candidates may participate in Bacharach’s Otago Fall Prevention program. The program aims to strengthen patients’ muscles through a series of exercises and a walking program to give patients confidence in their balance.
A Bacharach physical therapist certified in Otago first conducts an assesment. The next step is progressing to a six to twelve month home program. The patient will have seven to eight visits in the clinic over a two-month period to ensure they are safe and comfortable performing the exercises at home. After that, it includes monthly check-in phone calls with their therapist to make any needed adjustments.
Fall Prevention Tips
Susan Cohen offers seniors the following tips to minimize balance issues and prevent falls:
- Get your vision checked annually and check for cataracts and glaucoma
- Monitor your medication – four or more meds puts you at an increased fall risk
- Make your home (or your parents’ home) safe
- Install handrails, make sure there’s good lighting, tape throw rugs down or, better yet, remove them
- Place items in kitchen at waist to shoulder height to prevent reaching or bending
- “I encourage seniors to be proactive and get screened. As we get older, a fall can be much more detrimental to your ability to be involved in the community and maintain your independence.”
Interested in receiving a balance talk for your group? Contact Susan Cohen, MPT, at
609-487-7442 or 609-653-4141.