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Preventing Falls As We Age

For many, the ability to keep doing the things we enjoy and spending time with those we care about are the keys to aging well and maintaining a good quality of life.

According to the National Council on Aging, falls are currently the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults.  The cost of these falls, both financially and on quality of life, is staggering.

Last year in North Carolina, falls among older adults led to over 17,000 hospitalizations and more than 80,000 emergency department visits.

Many older adults have either fallen or know someone who has had a fall. However, falling should not be seen as a ‘normal’ part of aging. With the proper attention, a patient fall (while possible) can be prevented.

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4 Tips to Prevent Falls

Consider the following activities to ensure you remain “fall-free” in NC!

#1 – Stay Active.

Avoiding activity and exercise is the last thing you should do if you want to prevent a fall.  Strength, balance and flexibility are important to preventing a fall.  Talk to you doctor or nurse about options that might be right.

#2 – Have Your Medications Reviewed.

Many medications can increase the chance of falling and, in some cases, getting injured.  Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines each year – specifically with regards to increasing your chance of falling.

#3 – Perform a Home Safety Check.

When you’ve been in your home for a long time, it can be difficult to recognize potential risks.  The Center for Disease Control & Prevention created the Home Fall Prevention Checklist that can help you and your family “fall proof” your home.

#4 – Get Your Vision Checked Every Year.

While it may not seem important for fall prevention, older adults with poor vision are twice as likely to fall as those without visual impairment.  Poor vision can result in misjudging distances and depth, making stairs especially risky.

Resources for Fall Prevention in Older Adults

The good news about fall risk for older adults is there are some wonderful resources available, both online and in the community, to help reduce the chance of a fall and possible injury.

Healthy Aging NC, an initiative of the NC Center for Health and Wellness has excellent information about fall risk and activities to reduce the chance of falling.

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) also hosts a wealth of suggestions for preventing falls.

Stay On Your Feet!

1 in 4 older adults fall each year.

While that is a very large number of people, that means that most older adults are staying on their feet!  You and your family can take action to ensure you stay on your feet and off the ground.


About Mike Urton, MSN,  APRN, Adult-Gerontology CNS

Mike Urton is a Clinical Nurse Specialist at WakeMed Rehabilitation, specializing in fall prevention and pain management.

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