Each year the National Council on Aging uses the beginning of the fall season (September 23rd this year) to remind us that there are ways you can prevent falls; living life “falls free.” The 2015 theme for Falls Free is Take a Stand to Prevent Falls.
Why Falls Free Living is Important
- Every year 1 in 3 Americans aged 65 and over will experience a fall.
- Every 20 minutes a senior will die from a fall.
- Senior Falls are the leading cause of head trauma injuries and broken hips in those 65 and older
- Not all falls will cause bodily injury; however, once a person falls they become afraid of falling again and begin to overcompensate – putting them at higher risk of falling again.
- U.S. Emergency Rooms will see an older American due to falling every 13 seconds
6 Tips for Preventing Falls
- Have A Fall Risk Assessment – Consult your physician about having a full fall risk assessment to determine if there are problems that could increase your chances of falling. These “problems” could be anything from improper gait, over compensating because of fear of falling again, muscle imbalances, vertigo and more.
- Check Medications – Be sure to ask your pharmacist or physician about any possible side effects of both prescription drugs, over the counter medicines, and supplements that could increase your risk for falls.
- Be Assisted When Walking/Moving – It can be very beneficial to have a professional caregiver help you remain sturdy as you move about; especially outside of your home. You may also feel safer having your physician recommending an assistive walking device such as a walker, quad cane or other medical assistive devices.
- Vision & Hearing Tests – It is important that you have the ability to constantly hear and see your surroundings in order to move about freely and safely. It is very important to have yearly checkups for both your hearing and your vision.
- Evidence Based Community Programs – It has been proven that community programs that focus on balance, strengthening and increased flexibility are beneficial in helping to reduce the risk of falls in seniors. Programs that focus on seniors, such as learning Tai Chi, can reduce falls by 55% while helping the senior feel stronger and more balanced on their feet.
- A Clean & Neat House – Many times as we age we tend to let things clutter up certain areas of our home. It’s important to keep a clean and clutter free home to avoid tripping over items on staircases, throw rugs that can be overturned or slippery, and pathways that become cluttered. Hiring a caregiver to help with light housekeeping can be very beneficial.
Here are some other tips in preventing falls in seniors, from the AOTA.
The most important part of welcoming the season of “Fall” is understanding that falling is not acceptable at any age. Please let your doctor know if you have fallen and get a professional assessment to help you reduce your risk of falling again.
NCOA 2015 Falls Free Website
Photo by kateausburn