When seniors fall, one of the most common outcomes is a decrease in their overall independence and quality of life. And, among older adults, falls are the leading cause of unintentional injuries, hospital admissions and death; one out of three seniors age 65 and older fall each year. Seniors fall for a variety of reasons, such as decreased mobility and balance issues due to muscle loss, poor eyesight, medication side effects that cause dizziness, or risk factors in the home like slippery floors.
Since 2008, Falls Prevention Awareness Day has taken place on the first day of the fall season in September. This year, on September 22, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) kicks off the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Week to promote lifestyle adjustments that can substantially reduce the number of falls among seniors every year.
6 Steps to Preventing Falls in the Elderly
The theme of Falls Prevention Awareness Week 2017 is 10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls. Since it was first introduced in 2008, participation has grown from 11 states to 48, plus the District of Columbia. The NCOA will host a Facebook Live broadcast on September 22 at 3:00 PM eastern time to discuss the importance of preventing falls in the elderly.
Likewise, throughout the rest of the week, states across the country will provide presentations, health fairs, screenings and workshops designed to raise awareness among older adults, their families and caregivers about the risks of falls and how to successfully reduce them.
Although accidents do happen, many falls in seniors are preventable. The NCOA recommends taking six important steps to prevent a fall:
- Build your strength. Regular physical activity is key to creating stronger muscles, increasing balance and improving flexibility – all vital in preventing a fall. Find a senior fitness program you enjoy and make exercise a part of your daily routine.
- Get a fall risk assessment. Your doctor can conduct a fall risk assessment to determine your likelihood of falling. You’ll be asked things like if you have a history of falling and what type of mobility aids you need, and your gait will be monitored to assess how much of a risk you have for a fall. Then, suggestions can be made to keep you safe.
- Learn about medication side effects. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you’re taking on a regular basis. It’s common for seniors to take a variety of prescription and non-prescription drugs with side effects that may impact your balance.
- Schedule annual vision and hearing tests. Ensuring that you’re hearing and seeing as well as possible are key in preventing a fall. If you’re noticing any changes in your hearing or vision throughout the year, make an appointment to see your doctor right away.
- Safeguard the home. Keep your home clear of clutter and watch out for things that could cause a fall, like loose cords, area rugs or low furniture. If necessary, install grab bars in the bathroom or sturdy railings in the hallways. Also, make sure every room has sufficient lighting.
- Enlist support from family. If you were to suffer a fall, make sure you have an emergency plan in place with your family and friends. Perhaps you schedule daily check-in calls with a loved one, so they’ll know to be alarmed if you miss your scheduled call. Loved ones can help make sure your home or living space is a safe environment, too.
American Senior Communities offers a variety of senior healthcare services throughout our locations in Indiana, including our New Energy Wellness program designed to increase balance and mobility while promoting active, healthy lifestyles. Contact us today to request more information.