Preventing Falls - Can it be done?

It is being reported that 1 in every 3 adults over the age of 65 falls. Falls can be the major cause for sever injuries including hip fractures, head injuries and even death. Fall prevention programs are very common and are of a major health care concern. Facilities that manage a patients underlying falls risk factors and providing an environment for optimizing each individuals functional needs is an important factor in fall prevention and awareness training. How big of a problem are falls? About 1/3 of older adults fall each year and less than 1/2 talk to their healthcare provider about these falls. Falls are the leading cause for both non-fatal and fatal injuries. In 2010, 2.3 million non-fatal falls resulted in 662,000 being admitted to the hospital, with an adjusted cost (for inflation) of about $30 billion.

Who is at risk? Those with mobility problems, decreased strength and coordination, chronic health conditions, vision loss, loss of sensation in feet and those who are inactive. Ones medications can have significant side effects, alcohol use, living in a cluttered environment, poor lighting, incorrect size of shoes, assistive devices and poorly designed public spaces can all impact ones risk factors.

How can one reduce the risk of falls? Regular exercise, review your medication list with your physician, have your eyes checked regularly, de-clutter your home and make it safer, eat a healthy balanced diet and supplement with adequate vitamins, loose weight and get screened for osteoporosis.

There are many aspects of screening, evaluating and treating falls. By taking into consideration each individuals needs and concerns, an individualized program can be developed to keep you more active and lessen the chances of a fall. Education is key in the prevention of falls too and being aware of your surroundings, knowing how to properly use assistive devices, getting on an exercise program that is fun and keeps your motivated and being part of a support network that helps you when you have questions or need help is all part of the process of preventing falls and maintaining a healthy functional life.