|Preventing elderly from falling – one step at a time
The sixth annual National Falls Prevention Day, sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) was Sept. 22.
The goal of National Falls Prevention Day is simple – to increase public awareness about falls among aging parents and other older adults and to teach individuals how to prevent these falls.
The theme for 2013 was “Preventing Falls – One Step at a Time.”
An older adult visits an emergency room or department every 15 seconds for a fall-related injury, according to the NCOA.
That’s more than 2 million aging parents, spouses and other seniors per year. The NCOA also estimates more than 20,000 seniors die from fall-related injuries each year.
Falls not a normal part of aging process
Many people assume falling is an inevitable part of aging, but the NCOA considers this a myth. As a matter of fact, NCOA lists six steps you can take to prevent falls. These include:
• Maintaining a balance and exercise program: Building and maintaining muscles can help to increase balance, strength, and flexibility and can play a major role in keeping seniors fall-free.
• Having a discussion with your doctor: Your health care provider can give an assessment of your risk of falling and help develop an appropriate exercise program.
• Going over medications: Your doctor can also advise you as to whether side effects from medications can increase the chances of a fall.
• Keeping up to date on eyes and ears: Annual checkups can let you know whether you need glasses, an upgraded vision prescription or modifications to any hearing devices. Hearing can be as important to preventing falls as seeing. For example, sometimes an individual may not hear the approach of another person and may fall as a result of being startled.
• Fall-proofing the home: Clutter on the floor or stairs can increase the risk of a fall, as can loose rugs or carpets. Improper lighting can also add to the chances of a fall.
• Bringing the family into the picture: Family members can help keep the home safer for seniors and can also play a part in being alert for potential fall issues outside the home. They can also be aware of things that could cause falls to themselves, not just to their beloved seniors.
Sept. 22 annually is an excellent day to help raise awareness of fall prevention, but of even greater importance is making a commitment to helping to prevent falls every day.
We are fortunate here in Sonoma County to have a Fall Prevention class taught weekly at the Petaluma Senior Center. Call over to the Petaluma Senior Center and sign yourself up today.
It’s a step in the right direction.
Julie Ann Anderson is the owner of Home Instead Senior care office in Rohnert Park; mother of two and passionate about healthy living at all ages. Having cared for her parents, she understands your struggles and aims, through her website, www.homeinstead.com/sonoma to educate and encourage seniors and caregivers. Have a caregiving or aging concern? She’d love to hear from you at 586-1516 anytime.