SDSU Extension offers community workshops aimed at preventing older adult falls

South Dakota State University Extension
A group of older adults performing exercises in a school gymnasium.

SDSU Extension staff have been engaged in fall prevention efforts since 2018, when they were initially trained to offer the Fit & Strong! fall prevention program. Since that time, SDSU Extension staff have received additional grant support to expand the availability of “Fit & Strong!”, including virtual options, and other programs that can help older adults manage fall risks related to chronic diseases like diabetes or depression.

Falls are among the leading cause of trauma-related injury and death. Half of emergency department injury visits are fall-related. During National Fall Prevention Awareness Week, September 19 – 23, we raise awareness about falls among older adults, as well statewide efforts to address fall risk factors.

“We recommend all older adults discuss fall prevention risk factors with their primary care provider,” said Leacey E. Brown, SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist. “Most older adults have more than one risk factor for having a fall and your doctor can help your address the risk factors in your life.”

Other risk factors for falls include medications, home hazards, dizziness when standing up, visual impairment, footwear, and foot care.

You can reduce your fall risk by registering for Fit & Strong! workshops hosted by SDSU Extension. “Fit & Strong!” combines tailored flexibility, low-impact aerobics and strength exercises with self-management and group discussion geared toward maintenance of behavior change.

“Engaging in physical activity in a group setting is so powerful, especially when participants get the chance to discuss their day-to-day experiences and barriers with specific health-related concerns,” said Nikki Prosch, SDSU Extension Health & Physical Activity Field Specialist.

Participants can see improvements related to joint pain, stiffness, function, lower-extremity strength, mobility, mood, and self-confidence to manage osteoarthritis with physical activity. In addition, 80% of participants report they have a reduced fear of fall after the workshop.

“We just wrapped up a grant that allowed us to expand the availability of community education programs that help to address fall risk, including lower extremity weakness and chronic diseases,” said Brown.

It’s important to understand that many people will experience of period of high fall risk prior to end-of-life. One in four older adults will fall each year. It takes proactive steps to identify and remove fall risk factors.

You can learn more about upcoming workshops by calling 1-888-484-3800 or visiting the Fit & Strong program page.

For more information, contact Leacey E. Brown, SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist, at or 605-394-1722.