Falls are one of the leading causes of fatal and non-fatal injuries among Americans age 65 years and above. Most falls can be prevented through increased awareness about the potential risk factors and clinical interventions, including medications and healthy behaviors like regular physical exercise that helps build strength and balance. The first day of fall, September 22, marks the 10th Annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day (NFPAD) in the United States. Sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), this one-day event aims to raise awareness about elderly fall prevention.
The risk of falling increases as people age. Falls can seriously impact quality of life and independence. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, 2018 statistics) suggest that about one-third of adults in this age group report a fall each year and the annual cost of falls in the United States is approximately $31 billion. Frailty and chronic diseases have been identified as key risk factors for falls and related injuries.
NFPAD was first observed in the year 2008. Over the years, participation in this one-day event has increased from 11 states to 48 states and the District of Columbia. More than 70 national organizations, including the American Occupational Therapy Association, other professional associations and federal agencies are participating in the 2018 campaign.
The event is a great platform that unites older adults, family members, caregivers and healthcare professionals to generate public awareness about how to prevent fall and fall-related injuries in the community. As part of the campaign, national state and local partners collaborate to educate others about the impact of falls, share fall prevention strategies, and advocate for the expansion of evidence-based community fall prevention programs. Here are some key tips to help prevent falls among older people –
- Consult a health professional and get a fall risk assessment
- Reduce trip and slip hazards in the home or outdoors
- Use personal walking devices such as a cane or walker (if required) to promote stability
- Follow a strict physical activity regimen with focus on balance, strength training, and flexibility components
- Get medications reviewed periodically
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update eyeglasses
- Maintain good nutrition ( adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D)
As part of NFPAD 2018, www.ncoa.org offers a plethora of resources to spread awareness about fall prevention strategies (including general tips and tools). The toolkit includes suggestions for quick and simple promotional activities, the most-up-to-date fall statistics and info graphics, promotional materials (such as logo, sample media releases, social media guide), and handouts, links and self-assessments for clients and caregivers and surveys to evaluate and track the occurrence/risks of falls and suggest measures to curb the same.
Fall prevention requires the right balance of dedication, intervention and community support. Professional pain management centers in Brooklyn offer slip/falls prevention programs. Managed by geriatric care specialists, pain management physicians and orthopedists, these programs involve fall risk assessment and conditioning customized to suit the needs of the participant.