Falls Prevention Awareness Week (September 19-23) is a national health campaign to raise awareness around falls, health, and injury prevention in our communities. Join us at Kendal at Home in celebrating at 11 am each day the week of September 19th for a variety of informative events and activities. From discussions with a first responder and injury prevention and falls prevention expert on Tuesday and a home safety assessment expert on Wednesday, to a discussion on exercises on Thursday that can help you maintain your balance as you age, these sessions could help you stay independent and on your own two feet.
While we don’t actively think about it, balance is an important part of our lives. We balance our diets, our lives between home and work, our checkbooks and we balance our bodies. While all of these require conscious effort, only one requires physical exercise to maintain your ability. Without the physical ability to balance ourselves, we are all prone to falls.
For older adults, left unchecked, our balance can subtly begin to wane, and those falls can become more common - resulting in injuries. Things like broken hips and arms can keep you from carrying out many everyday activities - dramatically changing your ability to remain independent. While not all falls will cause these types of injuries, the statistics around older adults and falls are difficult to ignore. They include the following:
- Every second of everyday an older-adult falls
- More than one third of those 65 years of age or older fall each year and half of these falls are recurrent
- Risk doubles or triples in the presence of cognitive impairment or history of previous falls.
- Falls are the main cause of morbidity and disability in older adults
How Can We Keep Our Balance?
One thing to realize however is that while they may be more common, falls are not an inevitable part of aging. There are several things you can do now to help keep your balance and prevent falls. For example, a regular, balance-focused exercise program can successfully reduce your risk of falling, especially with moderate activity for at least 3 days per week.
In addition, here are a few other ways you can decrease that risk:
- Make sure you are getting annual eye exams
- Good shoes can make a big difference. There are plenty of footwear options that will support good balance
- Sign up for an annual medication review with PCP - called the Brown Bag Medication Review. Bring all over-the-counter medications, supplements and prescription pills, and creams to your doctor’s appointment to review your schedule and side effects that could increase your fall risk
- Be mindful of surfaces that could be slippery
- Use assistive devices such as a cane or walker as prescribed
- Have your ears tested annually for hearing or potential inner ear issues that could impact balance
- Get some rest – Be sure you are well rested before you head out in your travels
- Take your time and stand slowly to get your balance before you start walking
As we begin September, set a goal to start focusing on ways to reduce your fall risk. Check out Kendal at Home’s virtual events during the week of Sept 19-23 here.