Did you know that Friday, September 22 is not only the first day of Fall but also National Fall Prevention Day?
Falls, with or without injury, can cause a significant impact on our lives. A growing number of older adults fear falling and as a direct result limit their activities and social engagements. This can and will result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and the negative feelings of helplessness. Due to such statistics, approximately every 11 seconds an elder is seen in an emergency room for a fall-related injury, and in an effort for national attention, the annual Fall Prevention Awareness Day started. To commemorate this notable year, the theme is 10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls.
In aligning with this year’s theme, I thought these 6 tips might be a good review:
- Find a good exercise program: With doctor’s permission join a group exercise class such as Tai-Chi. Tai-Chi is a Chinese meditation practice that combines deep breathing and slow, fluid movements. A recent study suggests seniors who decide to take Tai- Chi may be less likely to fall than their peers who don’t do this type of exercise. When you live at The Hearth, we have our Move More® program that improves core strength, mobility and balance with the assistance of our Wellness Aide providing one-on-one and group exercises.
- Talk to your Health Care Provider: Share your history of falls with your health care provider and Wellness Directors/Director of Nursing. Falls are always caused by something; at The Hearth a fall risk assessment will be conducted upon admission and routinely thereafter when you move in to one of our Hearth Communities.
- Regularly review your medications: Review your medications with your doctor, pharmacist, and nurse to check the side effects on all medications. Side effects or combined side effects from medications can cause falls. You should NOT stop your medications abruptly or add more medications without consulting with your doctor.
- Get your vision and hearing checked -It is recommended that you get your vision and hearing checked at least annually and get your eye wear (lenses) updated. It is truly amazing how your vestibular system and vision can affect your balance and create feelings of dizziness.
- Keep your home safe: Grab bars and handrails if accessible decrease your chance of falling. At The Hearth we have increased the lighting in our widened hallways. Keep newspapers/mail off the floor that will become trip hazards. Make clear pathways for any adaptive equipment like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs so you can maneuver safely. Although backless slippers or backless shoes are easier for us to put on, they can slide and slip off your feet causing falls and should be avoided. Make sure the tread on your shoes is not worn (a good rule of thumb is to replace footwear yearly). Wipe spills up quickly and look for our wet floor signs when you are out running errands.
- Talk to your family members and loved ones: Enlist their support in steps to not only prevent falls but to maintain safety for not only you but for them… because falls are not just a seniors’ issue! Therefore, spread your knowledge!
Have questions about the information in this article? Click here to find and contact a local Hearth community near you to learn more!
Written by: Janet L. Haynes, Vice President of Clinical Services for Hearth Management
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