Play a part in preventing falls among older adults

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By Wally Pearce, Winters Elder Day Council
Special to the Express

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, the first day of fall, marks the 11th annual National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. However, the celebration for Fall Prevention Week has been extended in 2020. This year its from Sept. 21-25.

Falls are the leading cause of injury related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries. Numerous states and countries worldwide are now coalescing to address this growing public health issue; many are working closely with occupational therapy practitioners as key contributors to reducing falls.

This years fall prevention theme seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population. Forty-eight states participated in Falls Prevention Awareness Week last year, joining more than 70 national organizations, including the American Occupational Therapy Association, other professional associations, federal, state, and local agencies. Please consider the following national statistics:

One in four Americans aged 65 and older falls each year.

Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes an older adult dies from a fall.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.

Nationally, falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.

In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion. Medicare and Medicaid shouldered 75 percent of these costs.

By the end of 2020, its anticipated that nationally, the financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion.

If falls can be prevented, so can, hip, spine and wrist fractures. The medical community also considers that vitamin D deficiency is likewise a risk factor for both falls and broken bones. Daily vitamin D and calcium supplements are associated with reduced falls and fewer broken bones in older adults. Speak with your health care provider about how much vitamin D and calcium is right for you. Regular physical activity and exercises that combine weight, muscle strengthening, and balance also helps reduce the risk of falls and actually improves the health of a person’s bones.

The annual Falls Prevention Awareness Week raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. 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.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults. Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among older adults can be both eliminated and substantially reduced.

Please join with the Winters Elder Day Council in celebrating the week of September 21-25 as national Fall Prevention Awareness Week.

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