The not-for-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) and many organizations throughout New York State and the US will recognize National FallsPrevention Day (September 23rd) this year during Falls Prevention Week (September 21-27).
According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for seniors—70 percent of these falls occur in the home. Additionally, every 15 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, which can often begin a downward spiral of related and serious health issues.
"Our nurses and physical therapists working with people in their homes always encourage their older patients to talk with their doctor about their risk for falling," says Joseph Gallagher, a licensed physical therapist with VNSNY. "Doctors are often an important first checkpoint for falls prevention. Asking about an individual's history of falling, and observing him or her doing specific in-office activities, such as getting up from a chair and walking steadily, helps identify higher-than-average risk."
VNSNY encourages individuals to follow these guidelines to help prevent falls:
>>Staying Safe at Home—use home safety assessment checklists to review rooms and outdoor areas; remove floor clutter; tape down rugs/cords; arrange furniture to widen pathways; keep commonly used items within reach; don't use step stools; fix uneven surfaces.
>>Staying Safe On the Go—wear sturdy shoes; use handrails on stairs; avoid wet floors; be sure all furniture is stable; check for adequate lighting; consider safety items such as grab bars, raised toilet seats, non-skid tub mats, and carry a cell for easy access, especially if you live alone.
>>Balance, Strength, and Mobility—work on strength and balance with light exercise programs, weight training, walking, yoga, and hobbies such as dancing and gardening; talk with a health professional before beginning physical activities.
>>Multiple Medications—review all medications, both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, with your doctor and pharmacist; always carry a list of your medications; do not share or "borrow" medications; know common side effects for drugs; remember to take medications as described.
>>Know Your PERSONAL Risk Factors—weakness in the legs, history of falling, vision problems, cognitive impairment, dizziness, urinary incontinence, being older than age 80, walking and balance problems.
Source: Visiting Nurse Service of New York, vnsny.org