Falls Prevention Awareness Week September 20-24, 2021
Contributed by Tara Pandiscia, PT, DPT
As we transition to the Fall season, let’s talk about Falls. Falling is one of the leading causes of injury and trauma in older adults. Many people think, “It won’t happen to me” but the truth is that 1 in 4 adults aged 65+ fall every year. September 20-24th is Falls Prevention Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Council on Aging in a nationwide effort to prevent falls. Here are the top 5 causes of falls and what you can do to reduce the risk: 1. Poor balance and gait - Regular exercise can improve strength and balance and potentially reduce fall risk. While we do lose muscle mass as we age, exercise can improve and restore strength and flexibility - no matter your age! 2. Household Hazards - Over half of all falls take place at home. Throw rugs, poor lighting, and clutter are simple but serious hazards that can lead to falls in the home. Making simple home modifications, such as adding grab bars in the bathroom, removing throw rugs or securing rugs with double-sided tape, adding night lights, making sure all stairs have at least one handrail, and non-slip paint on outdoor steps can help minimize these hazards. 3. Impaired Vision - Poor vision can impair balance. In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina, which makes it harder to see contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles. Make sure to get a vision exam annually and keep eyeglasses prescriptions up to date. Those struggling with low vision should consult with a low-vision specialist for ways to make the most of their eyesight. 4. Medications - Have your doctor or pharmacist review all the medicines you take, even over-the-counter medicines. As you get older, the way medicines work in your body can change. Some medicines, or combinations of medicines, can make you sleepy or dizzy and can cause you to fall. Ask your provider about taking vitamin D supplements to improve bone, muscle, and nerve health. 5. Chronic Conditions - More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or use of multiple medications. Talk with your physician about solutions to manage these conditions and allow you to remain active and engaged in a healthy lifestyle. Check out the Falls Free CheckUp Tool from the National Council on Aging to get a personalized look at your risk factors and how to address them. If your strength and balance is lacking, you have difficulty with walking, or you have fallen within the past year, consider a PT evaluation with Tara, Restorative Therapy Co's balance and fall prevention expert, in order to get a customized program of evidence-based exercises that can get you back on your feet. Then spread the word about falls prevention to friends and family. It’s a nice way to reach out and show you care!
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