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September 24, 2013 > Preventing falls Ð one step at a time

Preventing falls Ð one step at a time

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was difficult to have a conversation about the danger of falls without referring to a television commercial about an home alert product using the catchphrase, ÒHelp, IÕve fallen and I canÕt get up.Ó While heavily satirized and sometimes used for lighthearted quips, the sentiment is not only serious, but often deadly.

Organizations across the country are celebrating Fall Prevention Awareness Week - September 22 Ð 28, 2013 with the goal of educating the public to not only the consequences of falls by older adults, but prevention techniques that combine common sense and awareness training. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, unintentional injuries, and hospital admissions for trauma. Falls can take a serious toll on older adultsÕ quality of life and independence. In recognition of this serious problem, a National Fall Prevention Awareness Day will be celebrated on September 22; California designates an entire week as Fall Prevention Awareness Week.

At the heart of this initiative is the message that falls are preventable through home safety, physical activity, assistive devices, medication awareness, vision exams and pet safety. Each year, one in every three adults ages 65 or older falls and 2 million are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries. The long-term consequences of fall injuries, such as hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBI), can impact the health and independence of older adults. Thankfully, falls are not an inevitable part of aging. In fact, many falls can be prevented.

Throughout the state, organizations that work with elderly clients are working to inform seniors and their families of basic tips and services to prevent the pain and cost of preventable falls. According to Tri-City Life Eldercare Executive Director Patricia Osage, help is available through Òa handful of actionsÓ for citizens to remain healthy and fall-free. She notes that some simple techniques include exercise to strengthen muscles and help maintain balance, review of medications and their effects, vision exams to maintain good eyesight, elimination of home hazards such as loose items, use of non-slip mats for slick areas, adequate lighting and wearing shoes rather than walking in slippery socks. Awareness of pet movements can also avoid a fall.

Life Eldercare has created a Fall Prevention program that includes home safety checks and minor modifications, medication reviews and personalized physical activity routines to increase mobility. A Certified Fitness Trainer visits participant homes to assess mobility and create a personalized exercise routine assisted by an LVN nursing student from Unitek College. The price is rightÉ itÕs free to Tri-City residents.

Underestimated and understated in media reports, falls are the #1 reason for injury and death of those ages 65 and older! The estimated emotional toll is incalculable but the hospitalization cost in Alameda County in 2004 was estimated by California Department of Health Services at over $111 million. That was nine years ago. Just imagine what it is today. Organizations throughout the greater Tri-City area including senior centers, medical centers and senior services are ready and able to help citizens prevent falls.

For information, contact:
LIFE ElderCare, Inc.
(510) 574-2090
www.lifeeldercare.org

Additional information can be found at local senior centers, community health facilities or www.stopfalls.org

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