Do you feel unsteady on your feet? Have you ever passed up an opportunity to participate in an activity that you enjoy because you were afraid of falling? If so, you’re not alone.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), each year one in four Americans age 65 and older fall. Falls can cause injuries and as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every five falls’ results in a serious injury such as a head injury or broken bone.
As the statistics show, falls ARE common. However, falls are NOT normally a part of aging.
Unfortunately, falls can threaten the health and independence of older adults. There are a number of risk factors that can contribute to an individual’s risk of falling, such as:
- Changes in vision or hearing
- Some prescription and over-the-counter medications that may cause dizziness or drowsiness
- Chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and Parkinson’s
- Having weakness in the lower body
- Having balance and walking difficulties
Older adults who fear falling may decide to avoid certain activities and events to prevent falls. However, by limiting physical activity, the risk of further physical decline increases, which in turn means a greater risk of falling. Not only that, by forgoing social activities, older adults are also increasing risk for social isolation and depression.
Wondering what to do to help lower your risk of falling? Learning more about fall prevention, staying active, and improving your balance and strength are all practical strategies that you can take to help manage and avoid falls.
Consider physical activities such as walking, yoga, Tai Chi, and other types of balance exercises; as well as exercises using light weights or resistance bands for strength. Before starting any new activity or exercise program, be sure to check with your doctor.
Did you know? Most falls happen at home. It’s important to make changes within your home to reduce the risk of falling, such as:
- Ensure there is good lighting so it is easy to see any obstacles that may be in the way. Install night lights where needed, such as in the bathroom, hallway, and bedroom.
- Eliminate slip hazards such as throw rugs, and remove trip hazards such as foot stools, shoes and other items that are in your walking path.
- Avoid walking on slippery surfaces such as wet floors or an icy walkway.
- Use grab bars in the bathroom and use the handrail when going up and down stairs.
- If you take medication, learn about the side effects. Be sure to tell your doctor if you experience dizziness or drowsiness from a medication.
Falls Prevention Presentations in September
Falls Prevention Awareness Week is a national campaign observed on the first day of fall. As a nonprofit agency that supports the independence and dignity of older adults and individuals with disabilities by providing essential information and services that promote healthy and safe living, Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) is offering two free virtual Fall Prevention presentations on September 13, 2023.
The first presentation will be held from 10-11:30 a.m. to register, use the following link, https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ejv4z02fbca9128a&oseq=&c=&ch=
The second will be held from 1-2:30 p.m. To register, use the following link, https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ejv4z02vf4a4e57f&oseq=&c=&ch= .
If you have any questions, contact OCES’ Healthy Living Program at 508-584-1561.
Additionally, OCES has a Healthy Living Program that offers “A Matter of Balance” virtual or in-person workshops that emphasize practical strategies to control and manage or avoid falls. To learn more about A Matter of Balance programs or for more information about fall prevention, contact OCES’ Healthy Living Program at 508-584-1561.
National Council on Aging (NCOA) https://www.ncoa.org/article/get-the-facts-on-falls-prevention and https://www.ncoa.org/older-adults/health/prevention/falls-prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html