MENOMINEE — The Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA is joining the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Falls Free Coalition to help raise awareness and prevention of falls in the Marinette/Menominee community.

Each year, it’s estimated that one out of four Americans aged 65 or older will suffer a fall, leaving many adults with a fear of falling that can cause them to limit physical activities. This leads to reduced mobility and diminished quality of life and can increase their risk of falling. In addition, as the population ages falls put an immense strain on the health care system, with the financial toll expected to reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

The good news is that falls are preventable. With a focus on healthy aging, the Y is committed to helping older aduts learn their fall risk and provide resources that can help them reduce their risk for falls.

“Even older adults who are in good health can suffer a fall, and many families oftentimes underestimate the risks and steps needed to prevent them,” said Kristen Weglarz, Healthy Living Director, Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA. “Fortunately, community-based organizations like the Y are a great resource for any older adult, family member or caregiver who wants to learn what they can do to not only decrease the risk of a fall but improve overall health and well-being.”

The first step to prevention is understanding risk. Older adults can assess their fall risk by taking a simple test at ymca.net/fallsrisk. Some risk factors may consist of “being worried about falling” or “needing to push with your hands to stand up from a chair” or “side effects from medicines can sometimes increase your chance of falling”. Through this assessment, individuals can learn how routine activities and other factors help determine their risk for falls.

Once assessing risk, the next step is to take action; the Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA is helping to improve the health and well-being of older adults across the country through exercise classes such as YWalk, Cyclelates, Chair Yoga, SilverSneakers Classic and Circuit, Aquatic Arthritis Exercise. Check out our website for full schedule of classes at www.mmymca.org or stop by.

The CDC suggests these basic lifestyle and safety changes to help reduce risk and prevent falls:

■ Begin an exercise program to improve your leg strength & balance.

■ Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines.

■ Get annual eye check-ups & update your eyeglasses.

Make your home safer by:

■ Removing clutter & tripping hazards.

■ Putting railings on all stairs & adding grab bars in the bathroom.

■ Installing proper lighting, especially on stairs.

To learn more about the Greater Marinette-Menominee YMCA classes and programs, please contact Kristen Weglarz, Healthy Living Director at 906-863-9983 or email Kristen@mmymca.org or check out our website at www.mmymca.org.