Age Safe America joins the National Council on Aging in observing the 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD) on Sept. 22, 2017—the first day of fall. In honor of this notable milestone, the theme of the event will be 10 Years Standing Together to Prevent Falls. This event raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. The official social media hashtag for this year’s event is #FPAD2017.
Groups in the Atlanta area took First and Second Place in the 2017 Falls Free® Photo Contest. Over 40 photos were entered nationwide, and competition was extremely tight. The winning photos and stories depict older adults participating in falls prevention programs around the country. First Place went to Asbury Harris Epworth Towers/Wesley Woods Senior Living, “One Foot Forward” in Atlanta. What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger! That’s the motto of older adults in this falls prevention class. Stronger means stronger arms, legs, and knees—and learning how to take control of their bodies by how they think, how they move, and how they react.
Second Place was awarded to the Cobb County Government in Marietta, GA. “Pop Up Tai Chi” You might have heard of the “pop up” restaurant trend. Cobb County Government in Marietta, GA, used this free and innovative idea to break down barriers around exercise and the generations. Pop Up Tai Chi opened the door for intergenerational physical activity to promote a healthy community for all residents of Cobb County.
Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65+. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. Even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active. 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 seniors can be substantially reduced.
If you have an aging parent, grandparent, or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling is a great way to help them stay healthy and independent as long as possible. The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented. The key is to know where to look. Here are some common factors that can lead to a fall:
- Balance and gait
As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance—primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see. New research suggests hearing loss can also contribute to the risk of falling.
Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
- Chronic conditions
More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.
As part of fall prevention measures, there are several simple and affordable modifications such as lighting and non-slip surfaces that can easily be done by homeowners or family members yet provide immediate safety benefits to residents and visitors. First get rid of anything you or your lived one could trip over. Make sure the home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs. Modifications such as adding grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower as well as next to the toilet, or adding railings on both sides of a stairwell or in a hallway may best done by a qualified handyman or contractor.
Falls in older adults are predictable and preventable. There are many organizations and individuals working hard to increase awareness of the issue and encourage action to prevent falls and injuries from falls. The 10th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be observed on Sept. 22, 2017—the first day of fall. Throughout the month of September Age Safe America will be joining national advocacy groups around the country in raising awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older Americans. National, state and local groups, communities and individuals are standing up and taking steps to prevent falls in older adults. Visit the sites below for additional information and resources.
National Council on Aging (NCOA):
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Fall Prevention Center of Excellence/StopFalls.org:
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a):
Age Safe America: