Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging offers help, urges steps to prevent fallsIn our country, every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those aged 65 and over.
“A fall by an older adult can be life-changing,” Debra Laine, special programs coordinator at Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging in Duluth said. “We need to stand together as a community and raise awareness of preventive measures that can keep seniors safe in the Arrowhead region.”
In our country, every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those aged 65 and over. Minnesota’s fall death rate is almost two times the national average and is increasing. Minnesota ranks third among all states in fall-related deaths. Falls among older adults are driving health care costs and significantly impacting the quality of life for older adults.
A majority of falls occur during routine activities. One-half to two-thirds of falls occur around the home and aren’t caused by a single factor, but rather a combination of issues. A large portion of falls is preventable. Studies show that women fall more often than do men, but at a lower rate of fatality. The rate of fatal falls increases exponentially with age for both sexes. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of falls result in fractures, most occurring at home. Most fractures that result from indoor falls are hip fractures; most outdoor falls result in distal forearm fractures. Most falls, 80 percent, occur during the day.
Laine, also the director of the falls-prevention program for the region, encourages older adults who are beginning to experience mobility difficulties and/or falls to take action immediately. “Most falls are preventable, but it is important to act sooner rather than later once you begin to experience instability. Your doctor can provide a fall risk assessment.” She adds, “Participating in education programs, such as Matter of Balance, that reduce the fear of falling, and exercise programs, such as Bone Builders and Tai Chi, will significantly reduce the risk of falls.”
Classes helping residents learn to keep their balance are offered.
Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls in the older-adult population. Experts recommend a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components; consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment; having medications reviewed periodically; getting eyes checked annually; and making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.
Residents interested in facilitating or participating in a Matter of Balance Class may contact Sherry at Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging, at 1-800-232-0707, ext. 531.
For more information contact Debra Laine, Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging at (218)529-7534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.