Falls Are a Leading Cause of Fatal Injuries

Falls Are a Leading Cause of Fatal Injuries

Old men falled down on floor and touching forehead

{Read in 4 minutes} When you think of fall, you probably think about cool, crisp weather, leaves changing colors, and pumpkin spice lattes. What you may not think of much is falls prevention. Falls prevention is an effort sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and coincides with the first day of fall in September. Some facts on falling:

•One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ fall each year.

•Falls are a leading cause of fatal injuries.

•The financial toll of older adult falls will increase as the population ages and maybe over $100 billion by 2030.

A growing number of older adults, like my father, fear falling and limit their physical and social activities. My father, who is 89 years old, was always active and played tennis into his early 80’s. He stopped playing when he tripped on the tennis court and has had several other spills since then. He is now very cautious and uses a cane.

Falling is a real risk but it does not have to be a normal part of aging. If you are unsteady on your feet then make sure you share your concerns with family and health care professionals. Falls prevention is a team effort and others can help you remain independent.

There are some things you can do to limit your risk and prevent falling;

1. Some people believe that staying home and limiting activity is the best way to prevent falls. However, doing this will reduce your physical strength and mobility. It is better to continue to be active and interact with others for physical and mental health benefits.

2. 50% of all falls happen at home. Make sure your home is well-lit, not cluttered, and doesn’t have throw rugs which can be a tripping hazard. Install grab bars in the bathrooms and use non-slip paint on outdoor stairs. Ask for help with any home maintenance that requires being on a ladder as that is another leading cause of falls. In the winter, ask a neighbor to shovel your walkway, keep it clear by using ice melt and wear cleats on your shoes to increase your grip.

3. It is never too late to start exercising. Exercise can partially restore strength and flexibility. Tai chi is a low-impact form of exercise that is especially helpful for seniors.

4. Medication can increase your risk of falls due to dizziness or sleepiness. Make sure you check with your medical professional about side effects and interactions between your medications.

5. Poor vision is another risk factor for falls. Have regular vision checkups every 6 months and keep your eyeglass prescriptions up-to-date.

6. Use a walking aid like a walker or cane to maintain mobility. Have a physical therapist fit the walker or cane to you and instruct you on its safe use.

7. Consider using a personal alert system that will sound an alarm or call for help if you fall. These devices can be worn around your neck or on your wrist. Some include GPS locators so help can easily find you.

So this fall, while you are enjoying a walk among the colorful leaves and sipping your pumpkin spice latte, think about Falls Prevention and the actions that you can personally take to reduce your risk. Share these actions with at-risk family members, as well, to keep them safe and upright this fall.

For more information, visit https://www.ncoa.org/older-adults/health/prevention/falls-prevention.

Founded in 1908, SilverSource is an independent, nonprofit organization that provides information, financial support, and other critical services that save lives, reduce homelessness among seniors and improves the quality of life for people over age 60 while serving as a resource center and referral source for older adults and their families in lower Fairfield County.

Kathleen Bordelon
Executive Director
Kbordelon@silversource.org
203.324.6584 x 301

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