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The first week of fall, ahem, autumn just so happens to be the beginning of Fall Prevention Week. September 22nd is the start of Fall Prevention week and, though there is only one week dedicated nation-wide to the focus, it should be something we focus on year-round.
Falling isn’t simply an inconvenience that causes embarrassment. Falling can cause real, sometimes lasting damage, and potentially death. Deaths by falls have increased over the years and so it is good to be as prepared as possible, even if you don’t think you are at risk for a fall. This applies even more so to those over 70 who have a threefold chance of increased falls than those 69 and under, according to a University of Mississippi study and the CDC. The potential to bruise, break a bone, or experience traumatic brain injury should be enough to encourage anyone to take a proactive stance in reducing their risk of falling.
Though fall prevention may not be the liveliest of conversations or topics, prevention is the key and the best preventive methods involve addressing and minimizing hazards before they can pose a threat to your health. Not every accident can be avoided, but taking certain precautions can extend your independence and greatly reduce your risk.
A few key preventative measures you can take are:
- Make an appointment with your doctor
- What medications are you taking?
- Have you fallen before? - Write down the details, including when, where and how you fell.
- Could your health conditions cause a fall? - Certain eye and ear disorders may increase your risk of falls.
- Keep moving
- Physical activity can go a long way toward fall prevention.
- Wear sensible shoes
- Consider changing your footwear as part of your fall prevention plan.
- Remove home hazards
- Take a look around your home. Your living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, hallways and stairways may be filled with hazards.
- Light up your living space
- Keep your home brightly lit to avoid tripping on objects that are hard to see.
- Use assistive devices
- Your doctor might recommend using a cane or walker to keep you steady. Other assistive devices can help too.
If necessary, ask your doctor for a referral to an occupational therapist. He or she can help you brainstorm other fall prevention strategies. Some solutions are easily installed and relatively inexpensive.
Erin Dorn, Aquatic & Fitness Coordinator