NDSU Extension - Mercer County

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September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month

National Falls Prevention Awareness Month, Elderly, Senior Citizens, Preventing Falls, Stepping On

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Consumer Scieneces

National Falls Prevention Awareness Month is an opportunity to educate seniors and the general public on the dangers of falls and how to prevent them.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of Americans ages 65 and older fall each year, with studies estimating that every 15 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.

Not only are falls a medical issue, but they also are a financial concern, with the direct medical cost of fatal and nonfatal fall injuries totaling more than $28.2 billion in 2010.

All adults want to remain independent as they age. No one wants to rely on someone else to take care of their daily needs. One fall could put an older adult’s independence at risk.

Risk factors include poor leg strength and balance, poor vision, taking four or more medications, living with one or more chronic health conditions, low blood pressure, hazards inside the home, inappropriate footwear, foot problems (neuropathy) and a fear of falling.

Falls are not a part of getting older. There are steps you can take to reduce your risk, regardless of age and ability.

There are basic everyday precautions that elderly citizens can do to prevent falls, such as removing hazards, checking shoes for wear and tear, reviewing medications with a physician or pharmacist to minimize a drug interaction or side effect, keeping active or even joining a local exercise program.

Such programs include Stepping On, a program specific to falls is offered in Mercer County.  The program educates seniors in an effort to help them remain independent and stay in their own homes. Stepping On is a workshop offered locally by the NDSU Extension Service and Sakakawea Medical Center. The workshop is for two hours, once a week, for seven weeks.

Stepping On will help participants identify why they fall and different ways to prevent falls, including strength and balance exercises, home safety check suggestions and a medication review.  Participants will view a display of falls prevention products. The workshop is both for people who have fallen and for people who fear falling. Participants will leave with more strength, achieve better balance, and experience a feeling of confidence and independence as a result of performing various exercises and sharing personal fall experiences as a group.

Many people have had a fall experience that has shaken their confidence and may have resulted in injury. The threat or fear of a fall can be a barrier to doing the things people enjoy. The prevention of falls is vital to maintaining personal independence.

For more information on falls prevention, or to put your name on a waiting list for the next available class call the Extension office at 873-5195.

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