To shed light on the serious nature of falls among older adults, the week of September 23-29, 2019 is being celebrated as National Fall Prevention Awareness Week. The purpose of this week is to deliver the message that falls can be preventable if people take the extra precautions and safety measures that are needed. Among older adults, falls remain the leading cause of injury-related deaths, unintentional injuries, and hospital admissions for trauma, which often take a serious toll on these individuals’ quality of life and level of independence.
Preventing falls starts with a person understanding what may put them at risk for falling, and then figuring out how to potentially reduce these risks. Falls can often result in hip fractures, head injuries and in worst-case scenarios, sometimes death. In many cases, older adults that have experienced a fall have a difficult time recovering, their health deteriorates, and they are more at risk to experience a second fall. As a person ages, they may begin to feel unsteady when walking due to changes in their physical abilities, such as vision, hearing, sensation, and balance. In accordance with these changes, people may become more fearful of falling and reduce their involvement in activities, which places them more at risk. However, with adequate knowledge, many falls and fall-related injuries can be prevented.
It is recommended that people speak with a medical professional to help identify risks for falls and develop a plan for physical activity that can reduce risk and increase balance and mobility skills. Additionally, people should make any necessary changes to their home or community environment if there are potential hazards present. To raise awareness about fall prevention during the upcoming National Fall Prevention Awareness Week, many fall prevention coalitions, health care providers, and senior care agencies plan on holding presentations, health fairs, screenings, and workshops. This initiative is being targeted among older adults and their families, caregivers, elder care professionals, and the general public to inform them of the seriousness of falls and ways to prevent them. To start the discussion of this issue and prevention methods, it is encouraged that people:
- Start a balance and exercise program: Build balance, strength, and flexibility.
- Talk to your health care provider: Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of recent falls.
- Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist: Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling.
- Check vision and hearing annually: Maintaining sight and sound help keep you on your feet.
- Keep your home safe: Remove tripping hazards, make sure walkways are well lit, and install grab bars in key areas.
- Talk with your family members: Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe.
Studies reveal that physical activity, balance and strength training improves a person’s mobility and reduces the risk of falling. Being more physically fit as one ages, however, places them at an increased risk for suffering from a fall outdoors. Within one’s community, the environment can present many hazards, such as uneven or cracked sidewalks, debris and lack of ramps, which should be reported to city officials for repair. Making changes to a person’s home and community often makes them feel safer and reduces the risk of falling. While outdoors, people should be aware of surroundings and walk at a pace that is suitable for the surface they are on. However, even when taking extra precautions, a fall-related injury may still occur. If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to fall that you believe was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another party, contact Spiros Law, P.C. today at (217) 328-2828 to receive a free consultation.