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Falls Prevention Awareness Week

Monument Health recognizes Sept. 18-24 as Falls Prevention Awareness Week. This national health campaign aims to increase awareness around the causes of falls and how we can help prevent them.

According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), falling is a serious problem, with 25 percent of Americans 65 or older experiencing a fall each year. Every 11 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room because of a fall, and sadly every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls among adults age 65 and older caused more than 34,000 deaths in 2019, making it the leading cause of injury death for that group. Additionally, the odds of falling are higher during the first month after a patient leaves the hospital, so it’s important that patients exercise caution when returning home. Here are some common causes of falling and ways to help prevent falls.

Common reasons why people fall in their homes include:

  • Slippery floors.
  • Environmental hazards like rugs, cords or cluttered rooms.
  • Narrow doorways.
  • Poor vision.
  • Lack of exercise.
  • Side effects of medications.

Some ways to help prevent falls include:

  • Talk to your doctor about falls, especially if you have fallen, are worried about falling or feel unsteady on your feet.
  • Getting regular vision and hearing checks.
  • Discussing the side effects of medication with a primary doctor or pharmacist.
  • Wearing supportive, rubber-soled shoes.
  • Using a walker or cane to help maintain balance.
  • Starting or continuing a regular exercise program to improve strength and muscle tone.
  • Making home modifications if necessary.

Research indicates that up to 50 percent of home accidents can be prevented by home modifications and repairs. Home modifications promote independence, accommodate lifestyle changes, prevent accidents and increase comfort.

Home modifications that can help prevent falls include:

  • Adding grab bars to one or both sides of the toilet, shower entrance or around the tub.
  • Raising toilet seats.
  • Adjusting sinks or countertops to measure 32 inches high.
  • Placing stable furniture next to the bed at bed height.
  • Using a touch-controlled bed lamp with a 3-way bulb.
  • Using non-pile rug surfaces.
  • Keeping pathways clear of clutter.

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