Risk of Falling Increases with Age; Prevention Tools Can Help
Wednesday, September 21, 2022
One in four Americans age 65 and older takes an unexpected fall each year. During Falls Prevention Awareness Week, experts are encouraging older North Carolinians to participate in local programs that can help them stay healthy, safe and independent.
Senior Project Manager for Falls Prevention for the NC Center for Health & Wellness at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, Ellen Bailey, pointed to data from last year showing falls can be fatal.
"About four older adults died every day from a fall in North Carolina, and many more were hospitalized or visited the emergency department due to a fall," said Bailey. "So, this is a great time with Falls Prevention Awareness Week to just highlight what people can do to prevent a fall, and to have those conversations."
She said regular exercise improves balance and strengthens legs, which is an important part of preventing a fall. She recommended checking with a healthcare provider about which type of exercise is best.
A list of local events is online at 'ncfallsprevention.org.'
Jennifer Tripken - Associate Director of the Center for Healthy Aging with the National Council on Aging - said the Falls Free Checkup, a brief online questionnaire, 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," said Tripken. "Because that's an indicator that there's something that person can do about that. They should look to engage in a strength and balance or flexibility exercise program."
Bailey added that having open and ongoing conversations about preventing falls can stave off trips to the Emergency Room, hospital stays and decreased quality of life.
"Often people don't want to talk about it, or their fear of falling," said Bailey. "And they don't think of fall risk until something happens."
She added that regular vision checkups and proper footwear are other priorities for preventing falls, as well as being aware of any medication side effects that might trigger dizziness or sleepiness.
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