September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month
September 01, 2022
While older adults and young children are at the highest risk for being injured from falls, everyone is at risk, according to the Brain Injury Association of America. The good news is that many falls can be prevented. Parents and caregivers play a key role in protecting children, while adults can take proactive measures to reduce their risks.
Falls are a major cause of unintentional death and injury, and they pose a significant threat to the health and independence of older Americans, according to the National Safety Council. More than one in four people 65 and older fall each year, resulting in 3 million emergency department visits, over 800,000 hospitalizations and 30,000 deaths.
Fall injuries can vary in severity but often result in a traumatic brain injury or a hip fracture. If you take care of your overall health, you may be able to lower your chances of falling. Most of the time, falls and accidents don't "just happen," according to the National Institute on Aging.
Here are a few tips from the institute and the Denver Health Trauma and Injury Prevention Program to help you avoid falls and keep you safe:
- Stay physically active: Plan an exercise program that is right for you. Regular exercise improves muscles and makes you stronger. It also helps keep your joints, tendons and ligaments flexible. Mild weight-bearing activities, such as walking or climbing stairs, may slow bone loss from osteoporosis.
- Sign up for a fall prevention class: Check with your local recreation centers or senior centers for class such as A Matter of Balance, Stepping On or Tai Chi.
- Have your eyes and hearing tested: Even small changes in sight and hearing may cause you to fall. When you get new eyeglasses or contact lenses, take time to get used to them. Always wear your glasses or contacts when you need them. If you have a hearing aid, be sure it fits well and wear it.
- Know your medications: Find out about the side effects of any medicine you take. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist.
- Get enough sleep: If you are sleepy, you are more likely to fall.
- Stand up slowly: Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop. That can make you feel wobbly. Get your blood pressure checked when lying and standing.
- Use an assistive device if you need help feeling steady when you walk: Appropriate use of canes and walkers can prevent falls. If your doctor tells you to use a cane or walker, make sure it is the right size for you and the wheels roll smoothly. This is important when you're walking in areas you don't know well or where the walkways are uneven. A physical or occupational therapist can help you decide which devices might be helpful and teach you how to use them safely.
- Be very careful when walking on wet or icy surfaces: They can be very slippery. Try to have sand or salt spread on icy areas by your front and back doors.
- Wear non-skid, rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes, or lace-up shoes with non-skid soles that fully support your feet: It is important that the soles are not too thin or too thick. Don't walk on stairs or floors in socks or in shoes and slippers with smooth soles.
- Always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last checkup, even if you aren't hurt when you fall: A fall can alert your doctor to a new medical problem or problems with your medications or eyesight. Your doctor may suggest physical therapy, a walking aid or other steps to help prevent future falls.
For additional information on fall prevention or A Matter of Balance course, contact Missy Anderson at 303-602-7623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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