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.