Seniors Dance and Learn Health Tips at Fair

As flu season is here, retired registered nurse Cecilia Baladad, 64, of Hawthorne thought it might be a good idea to have her 95-year-old mother get a flu shot.

What she didn’t realize was that the visit to the Seniors Staying in the Groove fair at Alondra Park in Lawndale, would turn into an afternoon of Zumba dancing, health and safety programming and useful tips about preventing falls if her mother is ever home alone.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen my mom dance. I am so happy to see her participate,” said Baladad. “It’s nice to be part of activities like this.”

Baladad and her mom joined more than 100 seniors from several senior centers in the park gym for the event, which was sponsored by the Empowerment Congress , a nonprofit organization that seeks to engage and educate residents.

At the fair, seniors learned tips on avoiding falls, on staying healthy. It turns out, that one in three adults over the age of 65 fall each year making it the leading cause of injury, hospitalization and even death for people of that age group. Emily Nabors, program manager of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence at USC and her colleague Anna Nguyen, an occupational therapist and research scientist at the Center of Excellence provided the crowd of seniors with simple, inexpensive ways they could reduce their risk of falling, stay safe and remain independent.

“Falls can have major consequences for older adults,” said Nabors.

Those tips include: Wearing shoes with firm soles and low heels, using handrails when available and watching out for cracks in sidewalks.

Indeed, three years ago Gloria Miller, 76, of Los Angeles was watering her front yard when she slipped and fell.

“I knew that there was no one to help me and I knew that I had to get up,” said Miller, who was grateful she fell on the soft grass and not concrete. “So I prayed, rolled to my side, got up and finished watering the grass. I was embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to see me on the ground so I quickly got up.”

Besides avoiding walking on wet surfaces, Miller now makes sure she carries her cell phone with her at all times – especially when she leaves home as a result of her fall.

“Since there are things we can all do to prevent falling we want to spread the word,” said Nguyen.

Dale Adams, 76, of Carson frequents the Hawthorne Senior Center. He left the fair on a mission to take what he learned.

“I will be a little more careful at home, “said Adams. “I will make sure I put plastic mats in the bathtub.”