Today is the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day. Did you know that falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for seniors? Falls aren’t just a concern during the slippery winter months. According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), 1 in 3 Americans over age 65 falls every year and a senior visits the ER for a fall-related injury every 13 seconds. Preventing falls is a critical element of healthy aging. Falls are not an inevitable fact of life for older adults—in fact, most falls are preventable! Through lifestyle adjustments, environmental precautions, and community support the incidence of falls can be reduced significantly.
NCOA’s Falls Prevention Resource Center offers many evidence-based programs for fall prevention, including their six steps to prevent a fall. These six steps represent lifestyle changes and personal actions you can take to reduce your risk of a fall-related injury.
6 Steps to Prevent a Fall:
1. Balance & Strength Training – Finding a balance and exercise program focused on building balance, strength, and flexibility helps reduce your risk of falling. All Vista Prairie Communities offer excellent fitness programs with staff who will work with you to develop an exercise program customized to your needs and your body.
2. Communicate – It’s essential that you communicate with caregivers, health care providers, and family members about your risk and history of falls. Many seniors experience shame associated with falling and try to keep falls a secret, but doing so will jeopardize your safety. Ask your health care provider for an assessment of your risk, and be reveal any recent falls at your next visit.
3. Review Medications – Because some side effects of certain medications can increase your risk of falling, it’s critical that you discuss potential side effects and your history of falls with your health care provider before starting any new medications, and to bring up any concerns that may arise throughout. Always take medications only as prescribed.
4. Annual Vision & Hearing Checkups – Your vision and hearing are closely linked to your ability to balance, which means it’s important to be aware of any significant changes as it could have an impact on your risk of falling. Make sure you attend annual vision and hearing checkups.
5. Create a Safe Home Environment – Many falls are easily preventable simply by removing environmental dangers in your home. Remove tripping hazards like clutter or cords, increase lighting in dim areas, line tubs with gripping mats, and install grab bars in danger zones such as stairs and the bathroom.
6. Enlist Community Support – Falls are not just a personal issue. Talking to family members, friends, caregivers, and members of your senior living community can increase safety for everyone. Spreading awareness is the first step to addressing this public health issue. The more communities start adopting fall prevention programs, the more lives will be saved from fall-related injuries.
Watch the video below to learn more about the 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall: