Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Elderly Hand Holding Cane --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Did you know that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, and every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall? Your BBB® would like to share news about Falls Prevention Awareness Day which is tomorrow, September 22, the first day of fall.

The purpose of this event is to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. This year’s theme is Ready, Steady, Balance: Prevent Falls in 2016. Here are more statistics from the CDC and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) about the consequences of falls to our senior citizens:

  • More than one out of four Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
  • Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.
  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
  • Falls result in more than2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
  • The direct medical costs for fall injuries are $31 billion annually (adjusted for inflation).
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020. Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.

The good news is that the number of falls among seniors can be reduced through lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical community partnerships. NCOA offers the following six steps to help a loved one reduce their risk of a fall:

1. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe.

Talk to your older loved one to find out if they are concerned about falling. A good place to start is by sharing NCOA’s Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls.

2. Discuss their current health conditions.

Are they having trouble remembering to take their medications—or are they experiencing side effects? Is it getting more difficult for them to do things they used to do easily? Encourage them to speak openly with their health care provider about all of their concerns.

3. Ask about their last eye checkup.

If your older loved one wears glasses, make sure they have a current prescription and they’re using the glasses as advised by their eye doctor.

4. Notice if they’re holding onto walls, furniture, or someone else when walking or if they appear to have difficulty walking or arising from a chair.

These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist.

5. Talk about their medications.

If your older loved one is having a hard time keeping track of medicines or is experiencing side effects, encourage them to discuss their concerns with their doctor and pharmacist. Suggest that they have their medications reviewed each time they get a new prescription.

6. Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home.

There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. For professional assistance, consult an Occupational Therapist. Here are some examples:

  • Lighting: Increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of stairs. Ensure that lighting is readily available when getting up in the middle of the night.
  • Stairs: Make sure there are two secure rails on all stairs.
  • Bathrooms: Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they’re installed where your older loved one would actually use them. For even greater safety, consider using a shower chair and hand-held shower.

For tips on how to make the home safer, the CDC offers a home assessment checklist. NCOA, the Administration on Aging, and the CDC also promote a variety of community-based programs that can help older adults learn how to reduce their risk of falling. Contact your Area Agency on Aging to find out what’s available in your area.

For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.

About Jackie 246 Articles
Jackie is the Operations and Education Foundation Assistant with the BBB. She assists consumers with business inquiries, and does presentations to senior groups and high school students. She is a regular contributor to the blog.

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