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Tuesday October 24th 2017

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Tracking Running Wolf: Falling Prevention. “What can I do?”

By Connie Norman

We see Elders in the community and others with balance issues that come to Running Wolf Fitness Center. I just wanted to share some statistics with you and talk about ways to prevent these falls from happening. We want a society where older adults can live safe, healthy and independent lives. While falls are a threat to the health and independence of older adults and can significantly limit their ability to remain self-sufficient, the opportunity to reduce falls among older adults has never been better. Today, there are proven interventions that can reduce falls and help older adults live better, and longer.

Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head injuries, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable.

How big is the problem? (Centers for Disease Control)

One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year,1 but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.

Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.

In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.

In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30.0 billion.

How can older adults prevent falls?

Older adults can remain independent and reduce their chances of falling.  They can:

Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.

Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.

Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.

Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways and improving the lighting in their homes.

Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.

Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.

Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways and improving the lighting in their homes.

To lower their hip fracture risk, older adults can:

Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.

Do weight bearing exercise.

Get screened and, if needed, treated for osteoporosis.

Running Wolf Fitness Center staff will assist you in learning ways to develop better balance for life!

Connie Norman is the Manager of Running Wolf Fitness Center

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