By Milton Curtis M.D.
Remember, it is not the fall—it is the landing that is the problem! While falls are common in persons 65 and older, they are not a normal part of aging. You can take action to limit your risk of falls. You will feel better and live better if you do.
September is Fall Prevention Awareness Month. One-third of seniors greater than 65 years old fall each year. Falls can result in injures that can be life-changing and cause a senior to lose their independence. Here are some great resources to give you practical information on how to prevent falls.
The National Coalition on Aging recommends 6 Steps to Help Prevent Falls in Older Adults (ncoa.org)
- Find a good balance and exercise program.
- Talk to your health care provider.
- Regularly review your medications with your doctor of pharmacist.
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses.
- Keep your home safe.
- Talk to your family members.
The Washington State Department of Health has some great resources at Older Adult Falls: Washington State Department of Health. Their program, Finding Our Balance, helps prevent slips, trips and stumbles.
Aging Wisely on the Pierce County Television has a 26 minute Fall Prevention Video on YouTube. https://youtu.be/qBwh7zgwC_g (Chose the button to skip the ads) They discuss some predictors of falls, including muscle weakness, a history of falls, gait problems, and a loss of balance. Home environmental risks are discussed with suggestions on how to decrease some of those risks. A paramedic’s perspective is given since they see a lot of seniors who fall. Exercises that improve strength and balance and reduce the risk of falls are illustrated.
The Senior Fall Prevention Initiative 501(c)(3) has a tool specifically developed for seniors to help you evaluate the risk of falls at https://new.seniorsafetyscore.org. Home Project Lists can be done in less than two hours and cost less than $100 to improve your safety. For more information, visit http://seniorsafetyscore.org.