The 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be observed on September 22, 2017—the first day of fall. In honor of this notable milestone, the theme of the event will be 10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls. This event raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults.
Did you know that 1 in 3 older Americans fall every year? Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+.
Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. And even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active.
The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented. The key is to know where to look. Here are some 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 90% 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.
One of the first steps that can be taken to prevent falls is to find and participate in a good balance and exercise program. In the MNRAAA service area, two evidence-based programs are available to help older adults improve their strength and balance and decrease their risk of falling. A Matter of Balance is an eight-session class that is designed to reduce the fear of falling, stop the fear of falling cycle and increase activity levels among community-dwelling older adults. Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance meets for two consecutive twelve-week sessions and is designed to improve balance deficits and fall risks by transforming martial arts movements into a therapeutic regimen.
To learn more about Matter of Balance or Tai Ji Quan visit mnraaa.org/training-opportunities