National Falls Prevention Awareness Day brings Communities
Together in Support of Healthy Aging
Fall is just around the corner, but falls shouldn’t be just around the corner for older adults. That’s why South Heartland District Health Department is joining forces with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and the Falls Free Coalition 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.
“Falls are the third leading cause of injury death in the South Heartland area and nearly 80% of deaths due to fall injuries are among persons 75 years and older,” reports Michele Bever, PhD, MPH, Executive Director of South Heartland District Health Department. “Although our rate of injury-related hospitalizations is less than half the Nebraska rate, we still have room for improvement,” Bever said. “We can improve this by bringing greater attention to the many preventive measures that can be easily employed to keep our seniors safe.”
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.
- Reviewing medications with a health professional periodically.
- Getting eyes and ears checked annually.
- Making sure your 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.
At senior centers and other community-based organizations across the United States and in the four-county South Heartland health district, 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.
“We are measuring strength and balance improvements in our local Tai Chi participants,” said Bever, “and our participants are eager to share how Tai Chi classes are improving their abilities and their quality of life.”
South Heartland District Health Department receives fall prevention grant funding from Nebraska DHHS and partners with Midland Area Agency on Aging to offer Tai Chi classes in Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster counties. Classes are 2 days a week for 12 weeks. To learn more about fall prevention and Tai Chi, or to sign up for the next available Tai Chi classes in your county, contact SHDHD(402-462-6211 or 1-877-238-7595).
Michele M. Bever, PhD, MPH
South Heartland District Health Department
606 N. Minnesota Ave, Suite 2
Hastings, NE 68901