September is National Fall Prevention Awareness Month. This health campaign provides awareness on fall prevention by educating the public about available resources to reduce the risk of falling in older adults. Being familiar with these risk factors is helpful because the likelihood of serious injury increases in older age.
A few reasons for falling include imbalance, muscle weakness, and inactivity. Some environmental concerns that also contribute to falling are lack of good lighting, items or pets underfoot, insecure area rugs, absence of grab bars and other shower safety equipment, and absent or unsteady railings. Many medical conditions and medications (both prescription and over-the-counter) can also make individuals more prone to falls.
Falls in older adulthood commonly impact the head, shoulder, wrist, spine, and hip of the individual. After a fall, the individual may be more likely to experience poor health and a sense of fear of falling again. Both of these factors can then contribute to additional falls. Implementing strategies such as having vision and hearing checked annually, performing a regular exercise and balance program, and reducing tripping hazards in the home are helpful ways to reduce the risk of future falls.
Engaging in exercise is important for prevention of falls because this can improve both coordination and balance. For instance, to help increase muscle strength and reduce the chances of falling, there are easy exercises such as heel lifts, sit-to-stand exercises, and toe lifts. Reducing tripping hazards can be achieved by removing clutter from walking pathways, using double-sided tape to secure rugs that may be loose in the home, and being aware of your pets' locations before you start moving. Older adults are also strongly encouraged to regularly check with healthcare providers about the side effects of their medications and be aware of any that can cause dizziness or light-headedness.
As part of Fall Prevention Month, we at FTAAAD encourage loved ones, employees, and volunteers to educate themselves more about this important topic to decrease the risk of falling among older adults.