September 22nd is the 10th Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day! It is the first day of fall and is a notable milestone that raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. 1 in 4 Americans aged 65 years and older falls each year. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are common and are the leading causes of head injuries and broken hips. This is the harsh reality and it is terrible, but we can do something about it to keep our older loved ones from falling.
Here are 6 steps to prevent a fall
- Find a good balance and exercise program. Look to build balance, strength and flexibility. Contact your local area agency on aging for referrals. Find a program that you like and take a friend or family member.
- Talk to your health care provider. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of any recent falls as well.
- Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling. Take medications only as prescribed.
- Get your visit and hearing check annually and update your eyeglasses. Your eyes and ears are keeping you on your feet.
- Keep your home safe. Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.
- Talk to your family members. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue.
Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. Falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence based falls prevention programs and clinical community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced. Falls with or without injury also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depressions, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness. We do not want that for our loved ones, we need to help and take a stand.
Visit the ncoa.org for some helpful handouts, tools and resources on Falls Prevention Awareness day.