On Sunday, Sept. 22, the first day of fall, organizations in 47 states will observe the 6th annual national Falls Prevention Awareness Day by offering proven activities to help seniors stay safe.
Every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+.
“Falls are not a normal part of aging,” said (Bonita) Lynn Beattie, vice president of injury prevention at the National Council on Aging (NCOA), leader of the national Falls Free® Initiative. “This day provides an opportunity for older adults and their families to take proactive steps to prevent falls and stay independent for as long as possible.”
Forty-seven states are participating, offering educational presentations, risk screenings, exercise classes, and other events around this year’s theme of Preventing Falls—One Step at a Time.
Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Experts recommend:
A physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components
Consulting with a health professional about getting a falls risk assessment
Having medications reviewed periodically
Getting vision and hearing checked annually
Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive
Talking to family members to enlist their support
Falls threaten seniors’ health and independence and are an increasingly costly health challenge. They cost more than $30 billion in direct medical costs from fatal and nonfatal injuries each year. For people aged 72+, the average health cost of a fall injury totaled $19,440 in 2010. Yet, there are evidence-based strategies, programs and services that can help older adults, their families and their health care partners in effective self-management of the risk of falling.
For more falls prevention tips for older adults, visit www.ncoa.org/FallsPrevention. For information about falls prevention in your state, visit www.ncoa.org/FallsMap.