Standing Together to Prevent Falls
Posted on 9/18/2012
Did you know that one in three older Americans falls every year? Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. And even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active.
Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls in the older adult population. Experts recommend a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components, consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment, having medications reviewed periodically, getting eyes checked annually, and making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.
At recreation centers, community centers, senior centers and churches across Forsyth County, programs like A Matter of Balance, Tai Chi, and Sittercise help older adults gain the strength, improved balance, and confidence to help them live healthier lives and preserve their independence.
If you have an aging parent, grandparent, or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling is a great way to help them stay healthy and independent as long as possible.
The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented. The key is to know where to look. Here are some common factors that can lead to a fall:
- Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some 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.
This information is from the National Council on Aging. For more information about falls prevention visit their website at www.ncoa.org.
For information about falls prevention programs available in Forsyth County for seniors, contact Rebecca Thompson at (336) 703-3219.