First day of fall: Remember to work together for a fall free tomorrow

AUTUMN-LEAVES-08TOPEKA – Kansas is one of 48 states and the national Falls Free Initiative that are declaring a statewide Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, Sept. 23, 2014. This year’s theme “Strong today, falls free tomorrow” seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population.

Falls Prevention Awareness Day, Sept. 23, 2014,  www.ncoa.org/FPAD.

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people 65 years old and older in the U.S. Every 14 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. The chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.

“Older adult falls can lead to serious injuries, death and substantial medical costs,” said Robert Moser, M.D., Secretary of Kansas Department of Health and Environment. “In 2012 more than 5,600 older Kansas adults (65 years old and older) were discharged from hospitals after a fall and more than 300 older Kansas adults died from a fall. These injuries cost more than $130 million in medical expenses. We need to raise awareness of the many preventive measures that can be taken to keep seniors safe.”

This year’s theme highlights the important roles professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members play in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population.

“Falls are not a normal part of aging and the resulting injuries can diminish seniors’ quality of life,” said Kari Bruffett, Secretary of Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. “This awareness day is a reminder for older adults and their support communities to learn how to reduce fall risks so our seniors can stay independent for as long as possible.”

Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Experts recommend:

  • A physical activity regimen with balance, strength training and flexibility components
  • Consulting with a health professional to get a fall risk assessment
  • Having medications reviewed periodically
  • Getting eyes checked annually
  • Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive
  • Having an annual hearing assessment

At senior centers and other community-based organizations across Kansas, programs like Tai Chi and Stepping On help older adults gain strength, improve balance and build confidence to help them live healthier lives and preserve their independence.

Kansas is part of the national Falls Free Initiative, which includes more than 43 states and 70 national organizations, professional associations and federal agencies across the country dedicated to reducing fall-related injuries and deaths among older adults. For more information about the initiative, visit www.ncoa.org/FallsFreeInitiative.

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