Those with aging parents or spouses should mark September 22 on their calendars: that’s the date of the sixth annual National Falls Prevention Day sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA).
The goal of National Falls Prevention Day is simple: to increase public awareness about falls among aging parents and other older adults and to teach individuals how to prevent these falls. The theme for 2013 is “Preventing Falls- One Step at a Time.”
According to the NCOA, every 15 seconds an older adult visits an emergency department for a fall-related injury. That’s more than 2,000,000 aging parents, spouses, and other seniors per year. The NCOA also estimates that more than 20,000 seniors die from fall-related injuries each year.
Falls: not a normal part of aging
Many people assume that falling is an inevitable part of aging, but the NCOA considers this a myth. As a matter of fact, NCOA lists six steps that you can take to prevent falls. These include:
- Maintaining a balance and exercise program. Building and maintaining muscles can help to increase balance, strength, and flexibility and can play a major role in keeping seniors fall-free.
- Having a discussion with your doctor. Your health care provider can give an assessment of your risk of falling and help develop an appropriate exercise program.
- Going over medications. Your doctor can also advise you as to whether side effects from medications can increase the chances of a fall.
- Keeping up to date on your eyes and ears. Annual check-ups can let you know whether you need glasses, an upgraded vision prescription, or modifications to any hearing devices. Hearing can be as important to preventing falls as can seeing: for example, sometimes an individual may not hear the approach of another person and may fall as a result of being startled.
- Fall-proofing the home. Clutter on the floor or stairs can increase the risk of a fall, as can loose rugs or carpets. Improper lighting can also add to the chances of a fall.
- Bringing the family into the picture. Family members can help keep the home safer for seniors and can also play a part in being alert for potential fall issues outside the home. They can also be aware of things that could cause falls to themselves, not just to their beloved seniors.
September 22 is an excellent day to help raise awareness of fall prevention, but of even greater importance is making a commitment to helping to prevent falls every day.