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National Fall Prevention Awareness Week

National Fall Prevention Awareness Week, 09/22 – 09/28 2016

“Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls in 2016”

Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, unintentional injuries, and hospital admissions for trauma. Falls can take a serious toll on older adults’ quality of life and independence.

Each year millions of older people – those 65 and older – fall. In fact one out of three older people falls each year. But less than half tell their doctor. 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. Over 700,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a head injury or hip fracture. The direct medical costs of these injuries are astronomical.

Many people who do fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may then lead one to be afraid and limit one’s activities, impacting quality of life.

National Fall Prevention Awareness Day coincides with the first day of Fall, and provides us an opportunity to consider the effects of falling, and brings awareness to some of the ideas and resources available to prevent falls. At the heart of this initiative is the fact that most falls are preventable.

Some common factors that can lead to a fall are:

Balance and gait:

As we age we lose coordination, flexibility, and balance – primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.

Vision:

In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina – making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.

Medications:

Some prescriptions and over – the – counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration, or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.

 

Environment:

Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.

Chronic conditions:

More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.

Things you can do to alleviate these risks. Take control of your Health!

Find a good balance program:

Look to build balance, strength, and flexibility. Contact your local Area Agency on Aging for referrals. Find a program you like and take a friend.

Talk to your health care provider:

Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of recent falls.

Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist:

Make sure side effects are not increasing your risk of falling. Take medications only as prescribed.

Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses:

Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet. Wear proper fitting shoes.

Talk to your family members:

Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue.

 

References / Resources/ More information:

Fall Prevention Center for Excellence: http://stopfalls/fall-prevention-awareness-week/

National Council on Aging : www.ncoa.org

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

http://www.cdc.gov/homecareandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html