September is Fall Prevention Month
Falls are not a normal part of aging, but they are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. That is why University of Illinois Extension is partnering with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Falls Free® Coalition to celebrate Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 22 and all September long.
This year's Fall's Prevention Day has a theme of Ten Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls. This annual celebrations brings together older adults and their loved ones, health and aging professionals and community leaders in support of falls prevention.
Falls prevention education can be life changing, not just for the older adults that participate in these events, but for their loved ones and even our community. We are proud to support NCOA's Falls Prevention Awareness efforts as part of our year-round commitment to supporting older adults.
"Falls prevention is a team effort that takes a balance of education, intervention, and community support," said Kathleen Cameron, Senior Director of NCOA's National Falls Prevention Resource Center. "This annual coordinated celebration is an opportunity to look at the world around us, be aware of falls hazards and take action to stay safe from falls."
The NCOA proposes the following six steps to take control of your health and increase your chances of preventing a fall:
- Find a good balance and exercise program to build balance, strength and flexibility.
- Talk to your health care provider and ask for a fall risk assessment.
- Regularly review your medicines with your healthcare team, including your pharmacist. Pay attention to the listed side effects to make sure that no medications are increasing your fall risk.
- Have your vision and hearing checked annually. Use assistive devices as needed. Your eyes and your ears help keep you upright and on your feet.
- Keep your home safe. There are many ways we can scan our environment to look for tripping hazards or to improve our homes to decrease our fall risks. Install and utilize grab bars in staircases. Remove tripping hazards such as throw rugs and unnecessary clutter in walkways. Increase lighting, both inside and out, as needed so paths are well lit.
- Talk to your family members and ask for their help in taking any steps needed to stay safe.
To find out more about falls prevention and these six steps, go to www.ncoa.org/FallsPrevention. A local resource that is dedicated to helping central Illinois understand their fall risk is the Illini Fall Prevention Clinic (www.illinifallclinic.com).
To help build up your mobility and prevent the risk of falls, try out some exercises. The National Institute on Aging has designated September the Go4Life Month. This effort challenges us to move a little more or a little faster and to try new activities. Focus on exercise routines that include four basic types of exercises:
- Endurance – exercises that help improve how long you can exert yourself during an activity. You can adjust your exercise effort and work towards your goal by improving endurance through frequency of how often you work out, the length of time you work out and intensity or how hard you are working out.
- Strength – exercises that help maintain or build up your physical power and energy
- Balance – exercises that help you remain upright, steady and catch yourself when your balance is offset
- Flexibility – exercises that help loosen the muscles and joints.
VisitGo4Life, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging athttp://bit.ly/2tKzApg. They have multiple resources on their website and videos that you can watch to learn about a variety of activities to improve your balance as well as remain strong and active.