Fitness Friday: Fall Prevention Awareness

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FORT MYERS, Fla.- September is Falls Prevention Awareness month and the National Council on Aging says we all need to “Take a Stand to Prevent Falls.”

While falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injury for those 65 years of age and older, they are not an inevitable part of aging.

Simply the fear of falling can be terrifying, leading to a less active lifestyle that adds to the issue. But contrary to popular assumptions, falling is not an inevitable part of aging. With individualized exercise and balance therapy, you can “Fight the Fall.”

Balance facts

  • 1/3 of the population over 65 falls each year
  • Falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions
  • 1 out of 5 hip fractures dies within one year after injury
  • Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among elderly

Seven steps to prevent a fall:

  1. Find a good balance and exercise program to build balance, strength and flexibility.
  2. Talk to a healthcare provider about personal history of falls and ask for a fall risk assessment.
  3. Review medications with a doctor or pharmacist to make sure effects aren’t increasing a risk of falling.
  4. Get annual vision and hearing checks and keep eyeglasses updated.
  5. Keep homes safe from tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, install grab bars in key areas.
  6. Talk to family members to enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe.
  7. Test Your Stability

Answer these questions to help determine if you may have a balance or dizziness disorder.

  • Have you fallen more than once in the past year?
  • Do you feel dizzy or unsteady if you make sudden changes, such as bending down or turning quickly?
  • Do you feel unsteady when you are walking, climbing stairs stepping up or down a curb?
  • Do you feel unsteady walking on uneven surfaces such as grass, gravel or sand?
  • Do you have difficulty sitting down or getting up from a seated or lying position?
  • Have you had a stroke or other neurological problem that has affected your balance?
  • Do you have numbness or loss of sensation in your legs and/or feet?
  • Do you use a walker or wheel chair, or do you need assistance to get around?
  • Are you inactive? (Do you walk or exercise less than 60-90 minutes total per week?)
  • Do you take medication for two or more of the following: heart disease, hypertension, arthritis?

If you can answer “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may be at risk for a balance or dizziness disorder.

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