September is Healthy Aging Month, and Falls Prevention Awareness Day is on Friday, Sept. 22.
The 10th annual observance of Falls Prevention Day is a great opportunity to spread the message to older adults, family members and health-care providers on ways to prevent the slips, falls and spills that are the leading cause of injury among older Americans.
The good news is that there are practical ways most falls can be prevented.
Here are three steps to prevent a fall
1. Find a good balance and exercise program.
For more than 10 years, the Pima Council on Aging has offered A Matter of Balance, an evidence-based health program, developed at Boston University, for older adults.
A Matter of Balance offers a series of eight, two-hour classes held twice a week for four weeks. The classes emphasize practical strategies to reduce the fear of falling.
The series is offered in a variety of locations in Tucson, Green Valley and Oro Valley . The contribution is $20 per person or $30 per couple for the eight classes , for a workbook, materials and snacks.
2. Talk to your health-care provider.
Ask for an assessment of your risk and share your history of recent falls. A checklist should include these topics:
- Exercise, because regular physical activity helps with balance and strength, flexibility and endurance; strong bones because getting checked for osteoporosis is important, as is discussing calcium and vitamin D treatment.
- Foot care, because pain, a burning sensation or numbness are warning signs; eye care because changes in vision can cause falls .
- Changing positions, because getting light-heading when standing up should be mentioned, and changing positions slowly gives the person time to adjust. Also mention medications, because some medicines can cause poor balance, weakness and dizziness, and taking multiple medications also increases the risk of falling.
When a person signs up for an evidence-based health-promotion program, including A Matter of Balance and EnhanceFitness, the individual will get a copy of “Talking with Your Doctor,” a workbook with tips about better communication between you and your health-care provider. For details, call Jennie at PCOA Health Promotion at 305-3410.
3. Keep your home safe.
Making changes at home will also help to reduce fall risks. Here are seven basic elements: lighting, flooring, bathrooms, stairs, furniture, assistive devices (canes and walkers) and clutter. Remove tripping hazards, wear shoes at home, increase lighting, make stairs safe and install grab bars in key areas.