Monday, September 9, 2019

Taking a Stand to Prevent Falls in 2019 - Successful Aging

National Fall Prevention Awareness Week is September 23- 29 when the focus is on raising awareness about how to prevent fall related injuries among older adults.  Research indicates that falls are the leading cause of injury related emergency department visits for older adults (65+), the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries.  More than 25% of older adults fall each year.  As a result about 30% of older people who fall lose their self-confidence and start to go out less often. Inactivity can then lead to social isolation, loss of muscle strength and balance thus increasing the risk of falling. The great news, however, is that falls are not an inevitable part of aging and that some can be prevented.
 The National Council on Aging cites the following common factors that can lead to a fall:
  • Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance— primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
  • Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.
  • Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
  • Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
  • Chronic conditions: More than 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.
What are some simple prevention measures to take to reduce the risk of falling?

  1. Health conditions - review your health conditions and medication with your doctor.
  2. Physical activity - keep moving by doing gentle activities such as walking, water exercises, tai chi.
  3. Footwear - consider changing your footwear.
  4. Home hazards - secure and/or remove common home hazards such as rugs, phone cords, furniture.
  5. Lighting - light up the living space. Keep areas brightly lit to avoid tripping over hard to see objects.
  6. Assistive devices - install/use assistive devices such as grab bars and stair rails.  (Mayo Clinic)
The CHORE and CHEER programs of  Bergen Volunteers which focus on improving the lives of seniors and successful aging also play a critical role in not only the prevention of falls by installing grab bars and railings ( CHORE) but also in providing assistance through the CHEER program. All CHORE labor is performed for free by a dedicated team of BVC volunteers; clients cover the cost of material. For additional information, visit our website and/or read articles cited.
‘Take a Stand to Prevent Falls’ as you explore and enjoy the bounties, splendor and celebrations of Fall.

For more information click here  and click here and read more!