National Falls Prevention Awareness Day brings Communities Together in Support of Healthy Aging
Every year, one out of three older adults falls, making falls the leading cause of injury among Connecticut residents aged 65 years and older and a growing problem for older adults across the state. Although falls pose various health risks—they can be prevented.
That’s why the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) and the State Department on Aging (SDA) are joining forces to celebrate Falls Prevention Awareness Day on September 23, 2015 – the first day of Fall.
While falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injury for people 65 years of age and older, they are not an inevitable part of aging. 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.
Health officials said falls resulted in 30,939 inpatient hospitalizations and 125,880 emergency department visits for the state’s older residents 65 years and above between 2008 and 2012.
“Falls can cause serious injuries that require emergency treatment or hospitalization,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Although falls frequently occur among seniors, most falls can be prevented with simple precautions or strategies. A few basic steps can help seniors live longer healthier lives and preserve their independence.”
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 recent United States of Aging Survey polled older adults to find out about how they are preparing for their later years. It found that more than half of seniors questioned said they would be interested in the expansion of community-based health promotion programs, including falls prevention classes.
The Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant (PHHSBG) funding is currently provided to local health departments in Connecticut to address the risk factors for falls among older adults including environmental hazards, medication interactions and physical inactivity. At senior centers and other community-based organizations across Connecticut, programs like A Matter of Balance, Tai Chi, and Stepping On, help older adults gain strength, improve balance, and build confidence to help them live healthier lives and preserve their independence.
In addition, the SDA collaborates with the Yale CT Collaboration for Fall Prevention (CCFP) who partners with clinicians and health care providers to implement fall prevention protocols that assess fall risk in older adults. CCFP also promotes community-based education and participation in evidence-based fall prevention programs such as Tai Chi and Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance.™
“Connecticut is fortunate to have the resources to implement proven strategies that not only benefit older adults but have made falls a priority within our state’s home and community based services system,” said SDA Commissioner Elizabeth Ritter. “Through SDA’s long-standing partnership with the CT Collaboration for Fall Prevention, CT has made significant progress in moving evidence regarding fall prevention into clinical and community sites and leads the country in the science of how to move clinical evidence into practice.”