A Falls Prevention Program for Adults age 50 and older
Did you know?
Falls are a major threat to the health and independence of older adults. In the United States, one out of three adults age 65 and older will fall this year. The state of Wisconsin ranks fourth for the highest rates of deaths from falls. And right here in Portage County each month an average of five seniors are hospitalized with hip fractures. Nationally, the direct medical cost for falls each year is over $19 billion for non-fatal fall injuries and growing.
Take the Falls Risk Challenge to see if you're at risk for falling. Keep track of how many "yes" answers you have to each statement.
- I regularly take four or more medications.
- My vision has changed as I've grown older.
- I'm age 50 or older.
- I have at least one chronic condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, or asthma.
- I drink alcohol on a regular basis.
- I have a dog or cat in my home.
- I don't exercise as often as I should or at all.
- My balance is not as good as it used to be.
- I'm not as strong or as flexible as I used to be.
- I've fallen down (for any reason) within the last 6 months.
If you can answer "yes" to at least one of these statements, then you're at risk for a fall. The more positive responses you have, the more you're at risk.
Maybe you didn't have that many "yes" answers. Can you think of someone you know who could answer more? Maybe your parents or a close neighbor?
Risk Factors for Falling
There are several factors that can increase the risk of falling for older adults. They are:
- Inactivity that causes muscle weakness or balance problems
- Vision changes and vision loss
- Chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and stroke
- Loss of sensation in the feet
- Medication side effects and/or interactions
- Alcohol use
- Home and environmental hazards
Four Great Ways to Reduce Your Falls Risk
Exercise: Regular exercise is the best way to start preventing falls today! It will help you maintain and increase your flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. And no matter what age you are, there is always something you can do to exercise. You could try walking 5 minutes a day to get started and explore your other options as you get more adventurous!
Medication Review: Some medications can interact and cause dizziness, balance difficulties, and even confusion. You should have your health care provider review your medications so you can avoid these symptoms.
Vision Check: You should have your vision checked at least once a year to make sure that your prescription fits your needs. Also, your eye specialist will be able to find any other problems that can affect your ability to see.
Home Safety Review: Make improvements to your home to make you as safe as possible. Watch out for safety hazards such as loose rugs and poor lighting. You can also add safety features like handrails and grab bars where you need them the most.