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Across MD, Community Workshops Help Older Residents Prevent Falls

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022   

One in four Americans age 65 and older take an unexpected tumble each year, and during Falls Prevention Awareness Week, experts are encouraging them to participate in programs to help them stay healthy and independent.

Wendy Farthing, director of evidence-based integration for the Maryland Living Well Center for Excellence, said her agency works with community-based groups to provide workshops.

"These workshops that we offer across the state with various agencies, they really help the older adult improve their efficacy and keep them engaged and keep them active, and keep them in their home," Farthing explained.

Research shows exercise and movement, like Tai Chi, improves balance and strengthens legs, which can help can prevent falls. Check with your health care provider about which type of exercise is best. More information on workshops related to preventing falls is online at mdlivingwell.org/programs.

Jennifer Tripken, associate director of the Center of Healthy Aging for the National Council on Aging, said having open and ongoing conversations about preventing falls can stave off trips to the emergency room, hospital stays and decreased quality of life. She pointed to the Falls Free Checkup, a brief online questionnaire which can help anyone gauge their risk.

"If somebody is leaning on furniture, or feels a little bit unsteady on their feet, that's good to know, because that's an indicator there's something that person can do about that," Tripken emphasized. "They should look to engage in a strength and balance or flexibility exercise program."

Tripken added regular vision checkups, proper footwear, and being aware of any medication side effects such as dizziness or sleepiness can help prevent falls. According to the Maryland Department of Health's latest available data, in 2015, more than 500 people age 65 or older died in fall-related incidents.

Disclosure: National Council on Aging contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Civil Rights, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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