September is Healthy Aging Month, and Falls Prevention Awareness Day is Sept. 23.

In Tucson, the 12th annual observance of Falls Prevention Awareness Day has morphed into a series of eight free events to spread the message to adults of all ages, family members and health-care providers on ways to prevent slips, trips and falls that are the leading cause of unintentional injury among older adults.

The good news is that there are practical ways most falls can be prevented.

3 STEPS TO PREVENT A FALL

1. Find a good balance and exercise program: For more than 11 years, 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, 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 activity helps with balance, 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 and numbness are warning signs.

· Eye-care because changes in vision can cause falls.

· Changing positions, because getting lightheaded when standing up should be mentioned, and changing positions slowly gives the person time to adjust. Also mention all 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 Enhance Fitness, the individual will receive a copy of “Stay Independent — Learn more about fall prevention,” an evidence-based checklist to find and fix hazards in your home. Discuss your responses to the checklist with your health-care provider.

For details and registration, call Jennie at the Council on Aging Health Promotion at 1-520-305-3410 in Tucson.

3. Keep your home safe: Making changes at home will also help reduce fall risks. Here are seven basic elements: lighting, flooring, bathrooms, stairs, furniture, assistive devices (canes, walking sticks and walkers) and clutter. Remove tripping hazards, wear shoes at home, increase lighting, make stairs safe and install grab bars in key areas.

When a person attends one of eight free falls prevention events this month (see below), the individual will get a copy of “Stay Independent — Learn more about fall prevention,” an evidence-based checklist to find and fix hazards in your home. Discuss your responses to the checklist with your doctor.

FALLING IS NOT INEVITABLE

Did you know that 1 in 4 people 65 years of age and older falls every year?

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. Falls are costly — in dollars and in quality of life. However, falling is not an inevitable part of aging.

Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based programs and community partnerships, the number of falls among older adults can be reduced substantially.

“Our goal at the Southern Chapter of the Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition is to reduce the incidence of falls and fall injuries among older adults through education, awareness and outreach focused on three essentials to fall prevention: physical activity, medication management and environment modification,” said Debra Adams Sr., vice president and chief operations officer at Pima Council on Aging, and co-chair of the local coalition.

The Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition in Phoenix is designed to provide information, advice, helpful hints and tips to help prevent falls and fall injuries by older adults in Arizona. By raising awareness of the issue and by providing advice to older adults, the statewide coalition hopes to lower the occurrence of falls across our state.

More info: For more about fall prevention and local public health and safety events, visit healthypima.org/falls or call the Council on Aging Help Line in Tucson at 790-7262.

On TV

The hosts of The Morning Blend program on KGUN-TV 9 will talk to a local expert about falls prevention at 11 a.m. on Sept. 23.

8 free events

Tucson, Sept. 12: The Ellie Towne Flowing Wells Community Center is offering resource materials, demonstrations and talks in partnership with local coalition service providers at 1660 W. Ruthrauff Road, 9-11:30 a.m.

Tucson, Sept. 20: The El Pueblo Activity Center is where El Rio Community Health Centers will host a falls prevention program and demonstrations at 101 W. Irvington Road in Building 9 (Multipurpose Room), 9-11 a.m.

Green Valley, Sept. 23: Valley Assistance Services host the annual safety and prevention event, “Stay Vertical Fall Prevention,” at the Valley Presbyterian Church at 2800 S. Camino Del Sol, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Registration is required as lunch will be provided. Reserve a seat by calling 1-520-625-5966.

Nogales, Sept. 27: The Santa Cruz Care Conference is open to the public at 2150 N. Congress Dr. in Nogales, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Tucson, Sept. 27: Banner UMC-Tucson and University of Arizona Fall Prevention host a series of talks by local experts with local coalition service providers at Health Sciences Innovation Bldg.,at 1670 E. Drachman St., 3-5:30 p.m.

Tucson, Oct. 16: Encompass Health Rehabilitation is the host at Mountain View Retirement Village offering demonstrations and local resources at 7900 N. La Cañada Dr., 9-noon.

Tucson, Oct. 24: Tucson Estates is the host of a falls prevention information and resource event in the Multipurpose Hall at 5900 W. Western Way, 9-11:30 a.m.

Tucson, Nov. 7: Picture Rocks Community Center is the host of a falls prevention event at 6691 N. Sandario Rd., 9-11:30 a.m.