Raising fall prevention awareness

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sept. 22, 2016, is the first day of fall and is also National Fall Prevention Awareness Day. This day is set aside to promote and increase awareness about how to prevent and reduce falls among older adults. Roughly one-third of Kentuckians over the age of 65 fall each year, resulting in more than 33,000 seniors being treated for fall-related injuries in Kentucky hospitals. The Centers for Disease Control report that falls are the leading cause of injury death for those 65 and older and the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions.

Falls are not a “natural” part of aging and by increasing fall prevention awareness, older adults and those associated with older adults can help decrease injuries and save dollars. Fall prevention education helps people remain independent and healthy.

So what can you do to help prevent a fall?  There are four simple ways to reduce the risk of a fall: exercise, healthy vision, a safe home environment and smart medication use.

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Exercise can be a key in preventing falling. Lifting weights can reduce the risk of a fall as it strengthens muscles and bones and helps you feel better and stronger.

Most of us realize that our vision changes as we age, but poor vision increases the chances of a fall. You can minimize poor vision by having annual eye exams, maintain and wear the correct prescription glasses or contacts and control the exposure to glare by using sunglasses or transition lens.

Because more than half of all falls occur in our homes, be sure to help avoid accidents by controlling clutter and tripping hazards such as extension cords and throw rugs.

The fourth way to reduce your risk of falling concerns medications or the combination of medicines you take. The side effects of some prescriptions and over the counter medicines can make you feel dizzy or drowsy. Have your doctor or pharmacist review all your prescriptions and over the counter medications to help reduce the risk of falling.

For more information on fall prevention or to receive our publication on Stand Up To Falling, contact us at the Clark County Extension Office at 744-4682 or visit us on the web at http://ces.ca.uky.edu/clark/