Molly Roffman knows what can happen to healthy, active older adults once they’ve sustained a fall.
A longtime physical therapist, Roffman has witnessed patients enter nursing homes after falling or tripping and end up losing their independence forever.
“I saw from that experience firsthand how devastating it all can be,” she said. “Sometimes people would come in after a fall and never go home again.”
Roffman launched StepWISEnow earlier his year, a balance training and fall prevention practice in Briarcliff Manor. Her studio hosts a variety of classes throughout the week, many of which she leads, that have been proven to help with balance. She employs a beginner’s level class that includes light warm up, seven tai chi movement sequences, how people can do tai chi on their own and how to reduce stress and increase mindfulness.
Then there are step and chair yoga classes, line dancing and ZUMBA Gold to keep the senior limber and less susceptible to falls.
There are also workshops and private lessons. Two smaller rooms offer reflexology and Reiki by certified practitioners.
Roffman cited New York State Department of Health findings that show nearly all falls are predictable and preventable. About one-third of adults 65 years old will fall every year; those who have fallen already will be at risk to do so again, she said. In fact, some adults can start experiencing slowly deteriorating balance as early as their fifties, Roffman said.
While making one’s residence more suitable for seniors, such as getting rid of throw rugs and common-sense clearing of clutter, is recommended, nothing is as effective as the aforementioned exercises that have proven to be effective, she said.
Attendees of the StepWISEnow studio range from 55 to 95 years old for the one-hour classes.
“It’s really exciting and what’s really wonderful is to see the really dramatic changes you can make from these exercises,” said Roffman, who can accommodate up to about 15 people in a class. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can improve your strength and your balance at any age no matter how much you’ve exercised in the past.”
To reap the biggest benefit, Roffman suggests two classes a week for participants. Within six months there will be a noticeable improvement, she said.
Several women who have attended Roffman’s classes reported improvements in their balance and activity less time than that. Bernadette Carroll of Sleepy Hollow said following a knee replacement about two years ago, she lost a certain amount of balance, but she has been regaining it at StepWISEnow.
“In the two months I’ve been coming here it’s improved tremendously because if you do what she’s saying, it uses all the muscles,” Carroll said. “When she says sit back and bend your knees, you feel all the muscles working and when you’re just watching it you don’t realize it.”
In the future, Roffman said she may schedule classes and workshops off-site, but for now her challenge is to make sure seniors have the tools they need to prevent falls and enjoy life.
“Basically, what I’m trying to do is there’s a major gap in the continuum of care for older adults,” she explained. “Programs that are available are not being provided for people who are falling and dying and losing their independence and it should be happening because these are programs that we know that are effective, but they’re not being offered.”
StepWISEnow is located at 325 S. Highland Ave. in Briarcliff Manor. For more information, including the schedule of classes, visit www.stepwisenow.com.