An older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall every 15 seconds, according to the CDC. “Stand Together to Prevent Falls,” is the theme of this year’s Falls Prevention Awareness Day, which is observed on the first day of fall, Sept. 22. The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department asks health care professionals, caregivers, and family members to help educate the community on how to prevent falls among older adults.
One out of three adults aged 65 and older falls each year, according to the CDC. The chances of falling and being seriously injured in a fall increase with age; in 2009, the rate of fall injuries for adults aged 85 and older was almost four times greater than for adults aged 65 to 74.
“While falls are a growing public health issue among older adults, they are preventable. Falls Prevention Awareness Day highlights the growing availability of fall prevention programs and preventive safety measures,” said Carleena Angwin, public health educator at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department. “Studies show that a combination of interventions can help older adults reduce their chances of falling and help maintain their independence.”
Experts recommend a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components. Other steps to help prevent falls include:
• Have your doctor or pharmacist review your medications. Some medicines, when taken together, may cause interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
• Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor annually. Poor vision can increase your chance of falling.
• Make your home safer. Remove small rugs and clutter in walkways, install grab bars in bathrooms, have handrails and lights put in on all staircases; wear supportive shoes inside and outside and avoid wearing slippers.
• Begin a regular exercise program that improves leg strength, balance, flexibility and gets more challenging over time.
Programs to help older adults improve their balance are offered at local senior centers and assisted living centers; A Matter of Balance, Tai Chi, and Silver Sneakers help older adults improve strength and balance, and gain the confidence necessary to maintain their independence and prevent falls.
This fall, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, in partnership with the Southeast Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability, invites older adults to join A Matter of Balance, an award winning 8-week fall prevention program. The free program will be held at the Eastgate Senior Center every Tuesday from Sept. 25-Nov. 13 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Call Carleena Angwin at 209-8203 for program information.