In 2020, nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of all emergency medical services calls reported by South Portland residents over 60 years of age were for fall-related incidents in private residences, with the majority of those calls (66 percent) reported by adults between the ages of 70 and 89 years.

The findings were surfaced as an outcome of a two-year project led by the Maine Council on Aging to help identify the needs of South Portland’s older adult population using data-driven analysis.

To tackle the challenges associated with falls and fall-related injuries among the city’s older adult residents, Age Friendly South Portland has established a program designed to educate and establish awareness of best practices, lessons learned, and available resources on gaining strength, balance, and activeness as a way of overcoming the risk of falling.

Known as the Age Friendly Healthy Aging Weekend, the event will be held on Sept. 24-25 at the South Portland Community Center (21 Nelson Road) and is open to all South Portland residents.

On Friday, Sept. 24 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Community Center’s Recreation Wing, residents are welcome to attend an educational session including a keynote presentation by Maine Strong Balance Center and a panel discussion featuring members from Southern Maine Agency on Aging, University of Southern Maine, Northern Light Home Care and Hospice, Maine Medical Center and more.

On Saturday, Sept. 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Community Center’s Nutter Road parking lot, residents are welcome to attend a fair featuring a variety of vendors from healthcare, community and public sectors, including Southern Maine Agency on Aging, South Portland Public Library, South Portland Housing Authority, Martin’s Point Health Care, South Portland Fire Department and many others.

The vendors will showcase key information, tools and useful tips to inform falls prevention and intervention best practices. Attendees will also have an opportunity to participate in a free falls-risk assessment screening conducted by Maine Strong Balance Center and the University of New England’s Balance Club, as well as a walking event organized by the South Portland Bike-Pedestrian Committee.

Falling is not a normal part of aging. Together, we can prevent falls by doing the right exercises, making our homes safer and ensuring regular health checkups.

Age Friendly South Portland hopes to see its neighbors and friends at its inaugural event later this fall. Follow Age Friendly South Portland on Facebook for the latest event announcements and information, including cancellations due to inclement weather or updated pandemic guidelines: https://www.facebook.com/AgeFriendlySP.

Chad MacLeod is co-chair of the Age Friendly South Portland Committee and can be reached at [email protected]

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