One Step at a Time

One Step at a Time

69086-Royalty-Free-RF-Clipart-Illustration-Of-A-Senior-Man-Character-Tripping-Over-A-CatThis month I am going to celebrate “Active Aging Week” Sept 22-28 and the 6th Annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day which took place on the first day of fall- Sept 22nd. This year’s theme is “Preventing Falls- One step at a Time”. Governor Jay Inslee has declared Sept 22-28 Fall Prevention awareness week in Washington State.

According to the CDC, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 1/3 of adults age 65 and older fall every year and for adults over 80 1 of 2 will fall. In Washington State alone, falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalizations among older adults. 10-20% of falls will cause serious injuries such as hip fractures. Those who fall are 2-3 times more likely to fall again. Many will have to go to a rehab facility to recover and will likely be afraid to resume their activities due to fear of falling again.

Currently adults age 65 plus are the fastest growing segment of our population.

Factors that contribute to senior falling are:

  • Lack of physical activity, which results in poor muscle tone and balance. Some surgeries, such as hip surgery leave the person in pain.
  • Impaired vision due to age or improper prescriptions/fitting of glasses
  • Medications either sedatives or antidepressants or multiple drugs
  • Diseases such as arthritis or Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s
  • Environments hazards- poor lighting, loss carpets, lack of safety equipment. One third of all falls involve hazards at home

The CDC and NCOA, National Council on Aging suggest these 6 steps to use to plan for reducing falls:

1          Keep your home safe

2         Have your vision and hearing checked

3          Talk to your health care provider. Assess risk of falls. Review your medications with your doctor and family

4         Talk to your family members. Falls are not just a senior issue.

5          Review your medications with your doctor

6         EXERCISE: it is the single most effective strategy to fall prevention, it will help to improve your balance and strength. Find a good balance and exercise program. There are agencies and programs to help you achieve this, check your resources to find out the nearest location)   Wear good shoes at all times

Here are some of the Environmental factors leading up to falls:

  • Wet slippery surfaces
  • Uneven or cluttered surfaces/floors
  • Unexpected obstacles
  • Stairs or curbs
  • Improper lighting or sudden changes in lighting
  • Improper shoes or footwear
  • Pets
  • Poorly fitted assistive devices for walking

Things you can do at home are:

  • Get a Home assessment
  • Remove loose rugs in the entry, kitchen and bath
  • Install adequate lighting at entrances/exits, hallways and stairs
  • Lighting can be on motion sensor, nightlights can be used in halls, bedrooms and baths, use 3 way switches
  • Have a flashlight handy for outages in handy locations in your home
  • Consider your surfaces, if remodeling use slip resistant surfaces
  • Clear the clutter from walkways, including be aware of where pets are located
  • Consider installing handrails in halls and bathrooms, which now come in designer finishes
  • Wear socks and shoes that fit and have good support
  • Have assistive devices adjusted for your height and weight
  • Label medications and take as directed, monitor for effectiveness per your physician
  • I hope this information will help to keep you safe and have a good Autumn Season!

Further resources can be found at:

AARP

Center for Disease and Prevention

Washington State Department of Health

Senior Services

Aging and Disability Services

National Council on Aging