Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among older Americans. Falls threaten the safety and independence of older adults and generate enormous economic and personal costs. The good news is that most falls can be prevented through improved awareness about the risk factors, practical lifestyle adjustments (regular physical exercise) and evidence-based falls prevention programs. The first day of fall, September 23, is observed as “National Falls Prevention Awareness Day (NFPAD)” in the United States. Sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the annual one-day event aims to generate awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults.
The risk of falling increases as people age. Reports suggest that about 1 in 4 Americans aged 65 plus falls every year. It is estimated that every 11 seconds an older adult is hospitalized for a fall and every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. By 2020, the annual direct and indirect cost of fall injuries is expected to reach $67.7 billion. This has made elderly fall prevention a priority.
National Falls Prevention Awareness Day (NFPAD) was first observed in the year 2008. Over the span of 10 years, the significance of this campaign has increased with its participation expanding from 11 states to 48 states and the District of Columbia. More than 40 states, 70 national organizations (including professional associations and federal agencies) and other local partners participate in the campaign and work collaboratively to educate others about the impact of falls, share fall prevention strategies, and advocate for the expansion of evidence-based community fall prevention programs.
Older adults can prevent falls by taking the following steps –
- Consult a pain management specialist and get a free fall risk assessment
- Enroll in a reliable balance and exercise program to improve strength and balance
- Get regular vision check-ups and correct vision problems
- Reduce the chances of hip fracture through good nutrition, including adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D
- Use personal walking devices such as a cane or walker if necessary
- Make your environment safer by removing tripping and slipping hazards, improving lighting, and installing grab bars (where required)
As part of the 2019 NFPAD campaign, professional, multispecialty pain management and rehabilitation centers will host a series of comprehensive programs such as health fairs, fall risk assessments, screenings and presentations, distributing promotional materials (such as logo, sample media releases, social media guide), display/bulletin board showing safety items, fact sheets and handouts (from the National Council on Aging) and fall prevention workshops to help people understand the potential risks of falls and measures to curb the same.
Fall prevention is a combined effort that requires a right balance of dedication, intervention and community support. Professional multispecialty healthcare centers in Brooklyn offer slip/falls prevention programs that involve fall risk assessment and conditioning customized to suit the individual needs of participants.