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Take Action During Falls Prevention Month

falls prevention, Stepping On, National Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

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.

September 22, 2018, the first day of fall, marks the 10th annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

Falls are the leading cause of injury related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries.

With fall just around the corner, many of us are settling into a new routine, so now is a perfect time to consider attending an upcoming Stepping On workshop.  

Stepping On is an opportunity for individuals to be proactive in preventing falls. This free seven-week workshop helps people remain independent, increases confidence and prevents falls. It’s important because:

  • One out of every four adults age 65+ falls every year; more than one-third of those who fall become less active. 
  • Falls are not a normal part of aging. They can be prevented.
  • 40% of people who enter a nursing home had a fall in the prior 30 days.

Stepping On is a national program that North Dakota State University Extension and North Dakota Department of Health have partnered to present statewide. The program helps older adults learn how to reduce their risk of falling.

In addition to tips on improving balance and strength, participants learn about safe footwear, sleep and vision issues, and modifications to make their homes safer to navigate. Participants will also view a display of falls prevention products. 

The Stepping On program allows participants to determine issues and approaches that are personally relevant. It is designed to challenge the person to appraise his or her risk realistically and provide a forum for gaining knowledge about safety practices. The aim of the program is to give participants control, and explore different coping behaviors, and encourage follow-through on safety strategies in everyday life.

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 falls experiences as a group.

For Eleanor Lindeman of Golden Valley, Stepping On provided several good tips, such as wearing a good pair of shoes, removing tripping hazards in your home and being aware of curbs, uneven sidewalks or pavement, or other obstacles when getting out of a car or walking outside.

"Just be aware of where your next footstep is going," she says.

Lindeman was among more than 750 older adults who have participated in 70 Stepping On workshops in North Dakota since late 2012.

Call the NDSU Extension office at 873-5195 to register for an upcoming class.

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