Older Kentuckians can reduce risk of falling

Special to the Herald-LeaderSeptember 16, 2012 

Julie Lasslo, UK Health


On Aug. 24, Kentucky joined with 45 other states in proclaiming Sept. 22, the first day of autumn, as a Fall Prevention Awareness Day.

In 2011, fall-related injuries among the elderly in the bluegrass were associated with $266,239,369 in hospital charges. In addition, falls come at an immeasurable impact on the quality of life for many seniors.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a third of Americans are hospitalized as a result of falling.

Many think these debilitating and emotionally taxing fall-related injuries are a risk inherent in the aging process, but that's not true. The fact is that simple prevention techniques reduce falls among the aging population. Fall-related injuries are not a part of the aging process.

No Falls Kentucky (Nofalls.org) is a resource developed by Kentucky Safe Aging Coalition that provides simple strategies that can prevent falls:

■ Engage in a physical activity regime that includes balance, strength training, and flexibility.

■ Consult with a health professional about getting a falls risk assessment.

■ Have medications periodically reviewed.

■ Get an annual eye exam.

■ Improve the safety of your home.

Simple strategies to reduce the risk of falls at home include:

■ Store frequently used items at waist level.

■ Remove clutter from stairwells, hallways and walking paths.

■ Install and use handrails in stairwells and bathrooms.

■ Remove throw rugs.

■ Place double-sided tape under area rugs and loose carpet.

■ Keep your home well lit and consider using a night light.

Though a simple fall can have extensive consequences, we know that simple preventive strategies can significantly curb the risk.

Julie Lasslo is the Kentucky Safe Aging Coalition coordinator at the University of Kentucky's Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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