Every September on the first day of fall, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) promotes National Falls Prevention Awareness Day; this year, it “falls” on September 22nd. The purpose? To spread awareness about fall prevention. First, a few statistics:
- Falls are the number one cause of injury for people 65 years and older.
- According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 out of 5 falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or head injury.
- The (NCOA) reports that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans.
It is because of these scary statistics that many older adults have a fear of falling and, as a result, will often limit activities or social engagements because of that fear. However, you shouldn’t let this fear should not run your life or keep you from doing things that you would like to do; falls are preventable.
Prevent Falls In 4 Ways
The CDC recommends the following 4 things you can do to prevent falls:
1. Begin an exercise program.
You can reduce the risk of falling by improving your ability to control your body, and by improving your stability. Gentle exercise such as walking, tai chi, yoga, and water aerobics are all great options to improve your balance, strength, coordination, and flexibility.
2. Review your medications.
Ask your doctor to evaluate your risk of falling, and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you are taking. Some medications may be making you dizzy or sleepy, which will increase your chances of falling.
3. Get annual eye check-ups.
Get an eye exam to check your vision and be screened for eye diseases. If your vision prescription changes, always update your glasses right away.
4. Make your living environment safer.
It is important to spot any potential falling hazards in your living environment and to address these hazards as soon as possible. Here are just a few things you can do to reduce the chances of falling in your home:
- Free your floors of clutter and tripping hazards
- Place night lights around your home, especially in hallways and bathrooms
- Apply non-slip treads on stairs
- Install railings on both sides of stairs
- Use non-skid bath mats inside and outside of the tub
- Use an elevated toilet seat
- Have safety grab bars installed; one next to the shower/tub, and one next to the toilet
Through practical lifestyle adjustments and tips like the ones mentioned above, you should be well on your way to living life sans fear of falling. This month, share this information with a friend of family member to help spread fall prevention awareness.