Cobb County Public Libraries and Cobb Senior Services officials have teamed up since 2015 to promote A Matter of Balance (MOB) workshops designed to reduce fall injuries in the county.
Amy Woodell, Evidence-Based Coordinator for Cobb Senior Services, and Acworth Library Manager Susan Irvin led the eight-week MOB workshop that met at North Cobb Senior Center in Acworth through November 15th. The MOB class for the veteran MOB coaches featured a high retention rate of the seniors enrolled in the class from the start to the end.
Despite the serious nature of the fall injury topic, the final session occurred in a collegial environment as the participants spoke of the value of the workshop for them personally and their appreciation for their MOB coaches.
“This is an amazing group,” Irvin said to the class of seniors as they talked openly about the highlights and lessons learned of the MOB series during its closing hour. “You have shared very easily with each other.”
“A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls” introduces seniors to strategies for avoiding falls and increasing physical activity. Cobb Senior Services administers the classes offered at Cobb Senior Centers and at other locations across Cobb. Woodell is serving as a coach for the MOB class at Mountain View Regional Library that runs Wednesdays through December 5th.
MOB participants said the class in Acworth led them to think critically about making improvements for falls prevention through changes like physical exercise, adding railings to cover both sides of a stairwell, and moving furniture and clutter to clear paths.
“I wasn’t aware,” a woman said to the class as she described commonplace items in a home that could turn into hazards under a misplaced step or a distracted thought. “Things are just sitting there waiting,” she added.
As MOB class facilitators, Woodell and Irvin are leaders for elevating the volunteer lay leader (VLL) model in public health. MOB was developed in the 1990s at Boston University, and evolved with the MaineHealth’s Partnership for Healthy Aging adapting the MOB curriculum for lay leaders to serve as MOB coaches in place of health professionals. MOB master trainers led classes for the MOB coach recruits.
Looking out at the North Cobb class, Woodell spoke of how MOB is about people standing together instead of facing their concerns about falls alone.
“This is a program that is intended to be led by the community,” Woodell said.
MOB classes can turn into de facto recruitment sessions for new MOB coaches to meet the demand for classes. A participant in the North Cobb class said Wednesday she is interested exploring how she could serve as a volunteer MOB coach for bilingual audiences in Cobb.
The North Cobb MOB class is the fourth Susan Irvin has co-led since she was trained as a coach in 2015. She is one of the first public librarians in the United States to receive MOB coach training.
According to the CDC, the average hospital cost for a fall injury is more than $30,000. Direct national medical costs due to falls are $50 billion annually, a major expense for families, Medicare and Medicaid, the CDC reports.
Reports from the Georgia Department of Public Health show about 10,000 emergency room visits annually by Cobb County residents alone.
Matter of Balance – Georgia HealthMatters includes information on upcoming MOB workshops and details on how to become a MOB trainer. Georgia HealthMatters is a collaboration between Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services and the University of Georgia Department of Foods and Nutrition and Department of Health Policy and Management.
Falls Risk Assessment by Empowerline, formerly called AgeWise Connection, which serves metro Atlanta seniors with quality of life resources. Empowerline is a program of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Aging and Independence Services Group.
Georgia Library Association: Cobb County Public Library System’s Falls Prevention Awareness Initiative in the Spotlight (2015)