At Fresno State, the Senior Awareness and Fall Education (SAFE) Central Valley Coalition program is taking steps to reduce falls in older adults. Since 2011, their program has been raising awareness, providing education to the public and advocating on behalf of older adults. As a nonprofit organization, they are committed to educating the community about fall prevention.

In Fresno County’s latest public health report, it was noted that of the 90,255 older adults that resided in Fresno, 78 percent visited the emergency room due to an unintentional fall.

“The good news,” said Dr. Peggy Trueblood, director of SAFE, “is that falls are predictable and preventable, and not simply a determined cause of aging. Specific risk factors have been researched and it’s important for adults, 65 and older, to be screened annually for balance impairment.”

In Fresno County, 75% of injuries to seniors are caused by falling.

SAFE hopes to continue their research and services to the public, and are seeking community support. They will be holding their annual Falls Prevention Awareness Dinner Fundraiser from 5:30 – 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at the Elbow Room in Northwest Fresno (731 W. San Jose, Fresno 93704). The fundraiser will give diners an opportunity to learn about SAFE and the programs and services it offers. Diners are welcome to arrive any time between 5:30 and 9 pm.

Tickets for the event are $50 per person, with proceeds directly supporting fall prevention efforts by SAFE in the San Joaquin Valley. The long-term goal of the funds is to provide a dedicated space for the services offered by SAFE, which includes annual comprehensive balance assessments and group FallProofTM exercise classes.

“Funds will also be used for core operating support, and to support FallProofTM participants,” said Ashley Hart, SAFE Coordinator. “While the older adults are not charged for the assessments or the group classes, we do financially support our FallproofTM instructors and equipment for the classes. SAFE is solely supported by donations, gifts-in-kind, and volunteer time and is currently not supported by grant funds. Financial support is just one component, but product donations, gifts-in-kind and volunteer services are all gladly accepted.”

SAFE will hold their free balance screenings Sept. 15 and Oct. 20.

Following the fundraiser, SAFE will kick of their annual comprehensive balance assessments, which occur four times a year. These free comprehensive assessments are conducted by an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students from the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State and California Health Sciences University. Anyone 65 or older can participate, by appointment. Assessments for the fall semester are Sept. 15 and Oct. 20.

Each year, more than 100 clients participate with 98% of participants interested in attending another balance screening in the future and 95% who agreed to change their habits because of what they learned at the screenings.

Registration for the September date is closed, but clients for the October date are still being sought. The interdisciplinary team consists of students and faculty from physical therapy, nursing, kinesiology and pharmacy.

SAFe Coordinator, Ashley Hart, discusses balance screenings.

At the end of the assessment, participants are provided recommendations based on the results of their assessment. In some cases, they may receive an individualized home exercise program or referred to our group FallProofTM classes. The group classes meet for one hour twice a week for 12 weeks. Participants in the class receive individualized training based on the results of their assessment.  Equipment used in the classes, similar to those found in physical therapy clinics, are meant to strengthen and improve balance.

“I am much aware of my surroundings,” said Patricia Corgiat, a participant in the FallProofTM classes. “I no longer lean forward when I walk, which I’ve notice a lot of seniors do. They ought to take this course! Anyone over the age of 65 would benefit from taking this course. They instructors here who really, genuinely care about what they’re doing. I recommend this course to everybody.”

100% of FallProof clients changed their behavior from exercises they learned in classes.

In addition to the free comprehensive assessments and group FallProofTM classes, SAFE also provides educational material, home exercise DVDs, community classes and aging informational presentations for community, senior, or medical professional groups.

Registration for the Falls Prevention Day fundraiser is requested by Friday, Sept. 9. To purchase tickets or for more information on the balance screenings and other services offered by SAFE, contact them at 559.278.7539 or