Memorial Regional Health: Aging and falling — falls among leading cause of injury for adults older than 65 | CraigDailyPress.com

Memorial Regional Health: Aging and falling — falls among leading cause of injury for adults older than 65

Lauren Glendenning/Brought to you by Memorial Regional Health

About one in four older adults falls every year — with one fall doubling the chances of falling again.

Falling is one of the leading causes of injury affecting adults older than 65, resulting in more than 3 million emergency department visits per year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Many falls do not cause injuries. But one out of five falls does cause a serious injury, such as a broken bone or a head injury," the CDC reports. "These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own."

Aging is inevitable, and part of the aging process includes the loss of some function in all vital organs, tissues, and cells. This breakdown greatly increases the chances of having a fall.

If you're concerned about falls — either for yourself or a family member — Memorial Regional Health is hosting a fall prevention class Saturday, Sept. 22.

Causes of falls

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Gerontologists — people who study aging — report that aging is due to the interaction of many lifelong influences, according to the National Institutes of Health.

"These influences include heredity, environment, culture, diet, exercise and leisure, past illnesses, and many other factors," NIH says.

Poor eyesight or hearing can increase the chances of a fall, as can illness and physical conditions that affect strength and balance, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Poor lighting and slippery throw rugs around the house can also increase the chances of a trip or slip.

"The side effects of some medicines can upset your balance and make you fall. Medicines for depression, sleep problems, and high blood pressure often cause falls. Some medicines for diabetes and heart conditions can also make you unsteady on your feet," according to the academy. "You may be more likely to fall if you are taking four or more medicines. You are also likely to fall if you have changed your medicine within the past two weeks."

Preventing falls

If you're an older adult and you're concerned about falling, it's important to talk with your doctor about things you can do to prevent your risk. A physician can evaluate your risk for falling and review your medications to see if anything is making you dizzy or sleepy, according to the CDC.

Strength and balance exercises, such as Tai Chi, foot taps, head rotations, standing marches, and other muscle-strengthening exercises, can help reduce your risk.

Simple adjustments, such as wearing more sensible shoes and removing hazards around the home, are quick prevention efforts anyone can make. If you need help, ask a family member or friend to check your home for dangers to make your home safer.

Fall prevention class at MRH

Attend a free lecture about fall prevention, followed by hands-on exercises you can practice at home. Refreshments will be provided after class. Walk-ins are welcome, and no RSVP is required. For more information, call Megan at 970-826-2176.

  • When: 10 to 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 22
  • Where: VFW Building, 419 E. Victory Way
  • Instructor: Chris Trujillo, PT, Memorial Regional Health Rehabilitation

Reduce your risk of falling

Talk to your doctor about your risk and consider taking some of the following steps to keep your risk low.

  • Get plenty of exercise, including strength and balance exercises.
  • Wear sensible shoes.
  • Remove hazards from your home — such as plants, loose rugs, coffee tables, and cords — that are near walkways.
  • Put things within easy reach.
  • Light up your living space.
  • Use assistive devices, such as a raised toilet seat, grab bars in the shower or tub, and non-slip treads on stairs.
  • Have your eyes checked.
  • See a doctor for regular checkups.

Source: American Academy of Family Physicians; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Mayo Clinic.