Submitted by Wendy Chirieleison, MS Ed
Community Health Educator
What You Can Do To Prevent Falls
Autumn is almost here! Time for students to get back to school, the weather is cool and crisp, and people begin spending more time indoors straightening up the house and getting ready for the holiday season. As September is Fall Prevention Awareness Month, this is the perfect time to reflect on some of the things you can do to be sure you do not succumb to an injury due to falling.
According to the New York State Department of Health, falls are seriously affecting older adults. In fact they report that, every day because of a fall, 223 people are seen in the emergency room, 140 people are hospitalized, and 60% of those hospitalized who are 65 years of age or older will wind up in a nursing home.
Preventing your risk of falling is important, and The New York State Department of Health Bureau of Injury Prevention identifies four things that you can do to ensure your safety, like starting a regular exercise program, having a medication review, having your vision checked, and taking steps to make your home safer.
Begin a regular exercise program: The NYS DOH recommends exercises like Tai Chi, which help improve balance and coordination. HealthLink has been offering Tai Chi classes in the community for several years. Instructors have been certified through the Arthritis Foundation, an evidence based program to improve balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and overall well-being. Always talk to your doctor first, to help you find the exercise program that is right for you.
Have a medication review: As you get older, the medications you take can act differently in your body, causing sleepiness or dizziness. Have your doctor or pharmacist review a list of all prescribed and over-the-counter medications you are taking.
Have your vision checked: Have your eyes checked once each year. This will help if you need a different prescription for your lenses. Annual eye exams can also help catch problems like glaucoma or cataracts, which can negatively affect your vision and increase your risk of falls.
Make your home safer: Put things away. Do not put anything on the floor like books, papers, or clothing, especially in areas where you walk. Use a double adhesive on throw rugs to keep them from sliding. Re-organize cabinets so that items used most often are within reach. Install grab bars next to the bathtub and toilet for ease of access. Use non-slip bathmats in the bathtub or shower floor. Improve the lighting in your home by using lamps or brighter light bulbs in darker areas of the home and install lighter curtains or shades to reduce glare. Install handrails and lighting in all staircases. Always wear shoes inside and outside of the house.
Consider installing a Lifeline system so that, in the event of an emergency, you will not have to worry about getting to the phone. Lifeline ensures that help is available at the push of a button 24 hours a day, 365 days of the week. Littauer’s Lifeline has been providing this personal emergency response system to the community for over 25 years, and can be contacted at 773-5507.
For more information, attend a FREE program co-sponsored by HealthLink/Nathan Littauer Hospital, Office For Aging and the YMCA entitled “Improve Balance & Prevent Falls” on Tuesday, September 23 from 1 to 3 p.m. Transportation is available to the Y for this program…for details or to attend, call OFA at 736-5650.