Preventing Falls to Protect Health

Falls seem minor to us when we are younger. Children walk around with scraped knees and think nothing of it. Younger adults might be embarrassed by a scrap or bruise but can explain that they took a tumble while exercising. By middle age, our bodies don’t bounce back so quickly, and we might need to see a doctor. And, as we age, falls can become seriously dangerous. Unfortunately, as well as falls being more detrimental, our risk of falls increases as we age.

When older people need hospitalization after a fall, their stay is twice the length of their contemporaries who are admitted for any other reason. One-third of people over the age of 65 will fall this year, and two-thirds of the people who fall will fall again within six months. Around 9,500 older people die from falls in America each year. These statistics make us take note and look for ways to prevent falls in older people to make sure we all live happy and healthy lives!

There are dedicated clinics to train people to avoid slips, missteps and trips. There are exercises and methods to help people strengthen themselves and gain equilibrium. Centers can also teach people to fall in a way to avoid injury and how to safely right oneself, a hard skill to master. Many organizations and businesses train people in these skills. Some programs that teach the skills have incredibly advanced technology, such as the ActiveStep system. Other programs use simple everyday objects and activities — stretches, walking styles, light exercise classes — to train people.

There are also behavioral lessons: look for the hazards in your world. Are you looking for tripping risks and changes you can make in your physical space? Are your light bulbs working? Are your rugs secured to the floor? Small changes can make a big difference to your probability of falling. To see more tips, click here.

Falls are not a normal part of aging, and most are preventable,” said Juliet Simone, the National Health and Program Director at Oasis St. Louis, a nonprofit that promotes healthy aging. “There are two main demographic shifts that make this more relevant: people are living longer, and we have a bigger proportion of older adults than we’ve ever had.” Her organization promotes education in fall prevention techniques.

The National Council on Aging is a great resource when looking for ways to prevent falls. If you’re looking for yourself or a friend or family member, they have an interactive map to search for programs close to you, tips, videos and more information about the programs themselves. Do some research and find out if fall prevention training could be beneficial to you or someone you love!

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March 22, 2019

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