Falls Prevention in 2017

Article Contributed by
Office for the Aging
Dana Corwin, RN

Friday September 22, is the first day of autumn and it is also Fall Prevention Awareness Day. Every September we are called to become more aware of the growing public health issues related to falls. In May of this year, 2017, the CDC held a conference entitled Aging Without Injury. According to the Center for Disease Control, “An older adult falls every second of every day. Less than half of them talk to their doctor about their fall.” (CDC, May 2017). Falls don’t always cause injuries that can be seen. One of the most difficult end results of a fall is that it limits a person’s confidence and thus limits their independence. There can be extremely serious problems as a result of a fall: a broken bone, internal bleeding and possibly a traumatic brain injury if someone falls and strikes their head. This is serious business. You can do something to help yourself and the people you love and care about.

There are many things we can do to prevent falls. Joining an exercise program that addresses improving balance and mobility is a key component. The Office for the Aging (OFA) offers several Tai Chi programs which are evidence based and proven to help reduce the risk of falls. Additionally the OFA offers Stepping On, a seven week comprehensive fall prevention course. It is a program that addresses topics like improving balance and strength through exercise, vision, medication management and safety in the community and in the home. These programs are held at various times and sites throughout the county. For more information, you can contact NY Connects, 716-753-4582, 363-4582 or 661-7582.

Other things that can be done to reduce falls are to ask your health care provider to evaluate your risk of having a fall. Be sure to report any prior falls or near falls to your provider. Have your medications reviewed by your doctor or pharmacist to ensure the medications are not causing you to become sleepy or dizzy and have your eyes checked at least once a year. In the home, make sure there is sufficient lighting, be sure stairs and floors are free from clutter. You can also have grab bars in the bathroom, in and outside the shower and railings on both sides of the stairs.

There are three key steps in fall prevention: identify your risk of falling, identify things you can do and change to decrease your risk, and talk with your health care providers-doctors, nurses, physical therapists and pharmacists. Twenty percent of a person’s health outcomes are dictated by what happens with your health care providers management. That means that Eighty percent of your health depends on you and your own behaviors, your home and community environment and other factors! Take control and learn what you can do to reduce your risk of falls this autumn on National fall awareness day!

For additional information on fall prevention or general assistance contact the NY Connects Helpline at (716) 753-4582, 363-4582 or 661-7582 or e-mail us at CCNYC@co.chautauqua.ny.us. NY Connects is the place to call to get connected to the help and resources you need. NY Connects assists people of all ages. NY Connects offers information and assistance services. It is confidential and free. NY Connects is brought to you by the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging and the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services.