Northborough Senior Center programs support winter safety, fall prevention


By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer

Northborough Rotary Club and Senior Center volunteers for the Sand for Seniors program.
Northborough Rotary Club and Senior Center volunteers for the Sand for Seniors program.

Northborough – Northborough Senior Center Director Liz Tretiak said there are many ways to be proactive about fall prevention.

Sands for Seniors to help fall prevention

The Senior Center in collaboration with the Northborough Rotary Club initiated the Sand for Seniors program. The intent is to increase safety during the winter by having Rotary volunteers deliver a bucket of ice melt product to the home of a senior citizen, who is unable to physically get it or unable to afford it.

Northborough residents aged 60 or older, who live in their own home, may be eligible for the program and are encouraged to call the Senior Center at 508-393-5035.

The program is one way to ensure winter safety, as well as to connect people to their community.

“There is a new initiative called #ReachOutMA to connect community members with one another and take care of one another,” said Tretiak. “The residents, the Rotary Club volunteers, and the Senior Center staff all work together on this initiative. It is providing a service, but also a community connection.”

Members from the Rotary Club met recently at the Department of Public Works garage to begin filling the first 10 buckets for delivery.

Importance of fall prevention

“The feedback from the first deliveries was so positive,” said Tretiak. “We have found that it is not so much a financial issue so far, it is an access issue- having the ability to lift the ice melt product and carry it from the store, to the car, and to the front steps is just too much for some folks. Everyone has been so appreciative. Safe front steps ensure that our seniors can get their Meals on Wheels deliveries and their homecare services.”

The Northborough Senior Center, as well as local aging services, take fall prevention seriously.

“Fall prevention is so important because as we age, the healing process can take longer,” said Tretiak. “Falling on ice is a major risk at all ages, it is not solely an aging concern, but seniors are more likely to have more brittle bones and less flexibility. Older adults who aren’t active in their daily lives are more likely to fall outdoors during the winter. There are many contributing factors– unsteady gaits, declines in vision– but inactivity might be one of the biggest predictors of falls.”

Strength and balance exercises are important to help increase lower body strength and body and balance awareness. The Senior Center offers several strength classes and Tai Chi virtually via Zoom and on Northborough Cable Access Television (NCAT). Seniors should check in with their doctors before starting a new exercise routine.

 Other proactive suggestions : 

  • Talk to your doctor about specific concerns to evaluate risks
  • Have vision and prescription glasses evaluated regularly.
  • Remove throw rugs, install grab bars, add more lighting
  • Focus on the current task, use hand rails and pay attention to the environment.
  • Have a personal emergency response system or be able to activate a device like Alexa.
‘Friendly outreach’

The Center’s Friendly Voices program will also check in with registered people on a set schedule.

Seniors receiving Meals on Wheels are not only being provided with a hot meal, but it’s another way to check-in. If someone doesn’t answer the door for their meal delivery, the agency will call the designated emergency contact to make sure everything is okay.

“Our Outreach worker Jocelyn Ehrhardt is a wealth of knowledge and can guide anyone in the process of aging safely in place at home,” said Tretiak.