Submitted by Carol Tomlinson, RN BS
Community Health Educator
Fall Risks For Seniors: Myths & Realities
Many people think falls are a normal part of aging. The truth is they are not! Most falls can be prevented, and YOU have the power to reduce your risk. According to the National Council on Aging, there are a number of myths that prevent many people from being proactive in preventing falls. The following are the most common myths and realities:
Myth: “Falling won’t happen to me.”
Reality: 1 in 3 older adults fall every year
Myth: Falling is normal as we age.
Reality: Falls are not an inevitable part of aging. Taking proactive steps to prevent falls can reduce your risk significantly.
Myth: Limiting my activity will prevent a fall.
Reality: Physical activity will actually improve your strength and range of motion, and help you remain independent.
Myth: Staying at home and on one floor reduces my risk of falling.
Reality: Over half of all falls take place at home. Ground level falls are the most common. To reduce your risk you should fix such hazards as clutter, loose throw rugs, and poor lighting. Make simple home modifications such as adding grab bars in the bathroom, a second hand rail on stairs, and non-slip treads in tubs and on stairs.
Myth: At my age muscle strength and flexibility can’t be regained.
Reality: It’s never too late to start exercising. Even if you have been a “couch potato” most of your life, becoming more active now will benefit you in many ways including reducing your risk of falling.
Myth: Medications, including over-the-counter medicines, won’t increase fall risk.
Reality: Taking any medication can increase fall risk. We all react to medications differently. Be careful when starting any new medication. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about potential side effects or interactions for all your meds.
Myth: Using a walker or cane will make me more dependent.
Reality: Walking aids will assist you to maintain and even improve your mobility. However, to use these devices safely have a therapist fit the device to you and instruct you in use. Do not use someone else’s device.
Myth: I don’t need to have my eyes checked annually.
Reality: People with vision problems are twice as likely to fall as those who don’t. For those with extremely low vision there are assistive devices that can help. Ask your ophthalmologist for a referral.
Fall prevention is everyone’s responsibility! Talk with your doctor, pharmacist or physical therapist about what you can do to reduce your risk of falling. Try one of the many exercise programs for seniors offered by HealthLink, senior centers, and organizations like the YMCA.
For more information, call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at email@example.com, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center on 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.