Fall is here, but falls shouldn’t be for older adults. That’s why the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is joining forces with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Falls Free Coalition to celebrate Falls Prevention Awareness Day, Sept. 23 – the first day of fall.
Nationally and in Oklahoma, falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for those who are age 65 and older. In Oklahoma alone, nearly 7,000 older adults are hospitalized, and more than 400 die from a fall each year. Hospital charges for acute care alone total more than $237 million annually.
This year’s Fall Prevention Awareness Day theme, Take a Stand to Prevent Falls, seeks to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injury among older adults.
Studies show that a combination of behavior changes can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Experts recommend:
Participating in a physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components.
Consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment.
Having medications reviewed periodically.
Getting eyes and ears checked annually.
Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.
The Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance program has been proven to reduce the risk of falls. In Oklahoma, many individuals have been trained as Tai Chi instructors and teach Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance classes around the state to older adults. This exercise program focuses on improving functional abilities, such as balance and physical function, to reduce fall-related risks and frequency of falls.