Falls are a major threat to the health and independence of people age 65 and older, but it doesn’t have to be that way. That’s the message that the Fall Prevention of Snohomish County wants to share as the state observes Fall Prevention Awareness Day on Friday, Sept. 16.
The coalition includes representatives from health-care agencies, fire and emergency medical services, senior groups, social services and private individuals from across the county who have come together to promote fall prevention, education and awareness to empower older adults to remain active and independent.
Gov. Christine Gregoire has proclaimed Sept. 16 as Fall Prevention Awareness Day to draw attention to this growing health concern. Nearly one-third of older adults experience a fall, often with life-changing consequences.
For many, these falls are caused by gradual health changes related to aging such as chronic health conditions, medication use and changes in muscle strength, balance, vision and walking ability. However, older adults and their families can take steps to manage these health factors to help stay active and independent for life.
Experts have identified four main factors that have the greatest impact on reducing senior falls:
-Exercise: Participating in group or individual exercise programs can build strength, flexibility and balance.
-Vision: Regular vision screening by an eye doctor can identify the need for a new eyeglass prescription or conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts that limit vision and increase the risk of falls.
-Medication management: Having a pharmacist or doctor review medicines can identify drugs and drug combinations that cause drowsiness or light-headedness which can lead to a fall.
-Home safety: About half of all falls happen at home. This risk can be reduced with simple modifications such as removing trip hazards, installing grab bars in the showers and tubs, removing small throw rugs and improving lighting on stairs and in hallways.
To learn more about fall prevention, contact Senior Services of Snohomish County Information and Assistance at 425-513-1900.