National Falls Prevention Awareness Day is September 22Every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury.
By: Mary Krueger, Douglas County Senior Coordinator, Alexandria Echo Press
Every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury.
Every 29 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall.
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for those ages 65 and older. One-third of Americans aged 65-plus fall each year. The chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.
This day of awareness brings attention to a growing public health issue among older adults, but also brings attention to the many proven falls prevention programs and interventions available such as Matter of Balance.
Experts recommend a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training and flexibility components. Medications should be reviewed periodically, eyes should be checked annually and your home environment should be checked to ensure it is safe and supportive.
Following are some facts:
• Falls result in lifetime costs of $18.5 billion among adults ages 45-64 nationally.
• Women age 50 and older are more likely than men to fall.
• Men age 50 and older are more likely to die from a fall until about age 70.
• Older Minnesotans account for more than 60 percent of fall-related hospitalizations and 85 percent of fall deaths. Costs for non-fatal falls for older Minnesotans are high - $162 million for hospital charges and $20.4 million for emergency department charges in 2005.
Falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through evidence-based interventions, some lifestyle adjustments and community partnerships, we can reduce the number of falls we take.
We need to encourage older adults to become more physically active and make some modifications to their homes.
We should encourage health care providers to assess all older patients for fall risk factors.
We can educate and train caregivers and family members in strategies to reduce falls.
We can encourage our communities to increase the availability of evidence-based falls prevention programs.
A growing number of older adults fear falling and as a result, self-limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation and feelings of helplessness.
HOME SAFETY TIPS
• Reorganize your kitchen so frequently used items are within reach.
• Use a sturdy step-stool to reach items that are not within reach.
• Have a clear and wide path in each room. Clear up clutter. Remove papers or magazines from the floor.
• Remove scatter rugs from high traffic areas. Make sure each rug has a non-slip backing.
• Make sure stairways are well-lit with sturdy handrails on both sides. Make sure if they are carpeted that it is firmly attached. Have a light switch at both the top and bottom of the stairs.
• Check that electrical cords do not need to be walked over. If so, re-route them.
• Wipe up spills right away.
• Wear sturdy soled shoes when walking, even indoors.
If you have any questions, call Mary at (320) 762-3047.