Extension and Ag Research News


Older Adults Can Reduce Falling Risk

Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for North Dakotans age 60 and older.

Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for older Americans.

“The consequences of falls are substantial, including serious injury, loss of independent living and limits on physical activity,” says Jane Strommen, North Dakota State University Extension gerontology specialist.

In 2018, falls were the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths for North Dakota residents age 60 and older. Eighty fall-related deaths occurred among this age group in 2018.

Nationally, one out of every four people 65 and older falls each year. In 2020, the total cost of falls injuries is projected to reach $67.7 billion.

The chances of falling and being seriously injured increase with age. However, falls are not a normal part of aging.

“By reducing the risk of falls, older adults can increase their quality of life and save thousands of dollars in health-care and long-term care costs,” Strommen says.

As the baby-boomer generation continues to age, interventions designed to maintain independence, mobility and quality of life will be increasingly important. Older adults can take control of their health by following these recommendations to prevent falls:

  • Find a good balance and exercise program that builds balance, strength and flexibility.
  • Talk to your health-care provider and ask for an assessment of your risk of falling.
  • Review your medications with your pharmacist or doctor. Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling.
  • Get your vision checked annually and update your eyeglasses as needed.
  • Keep your home safe. Increase lighting, remove tripping hazards, install grab bars and make stairs safe.
  • Assess your footwear for safety. Look for supportive shoes, a good fit, a sole that grips, and a heel that is stable and grips.

Another important tip is to sign up for a falls prevention class. Many communities in North Dakota provide falls prevention classes called Stepping On for people age 60 and older. Participants hear from community experts such as pharmacists and vision specialists, and learn about strength and balance exercises from physical therapists.

While the Stepping On program is not available due to coronavirus restrictions, those interested can join a waiting list and will be contacted when the program is available.

For more information about Stepping On or to request a home safety checklist, contact Strommen at 701-231-5948 or jane.strommen@ndsu.edu.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source: Jane Strommen, 701-231-5948, jane.strommen@ndsu.edu

Editor: Ellen Crawford, 701-231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu

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