A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on September 22, 2016 in conjunction with the 9th Annual National Council on Aging Falls Prevention Day,  showed that 29 million falls occurred in older adults in 2014 causing 7 million injuries resulting in 27,000 deaths.

For a summary of the report go to: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/313064.php

For the complete report go to: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6537a2.htm?s_cid=mm6537a2_w

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Falling is serious business for older adults.  According to the CDC, it is a leading cause of death from injury in people over 65 and causes more than 95% of the broken hips that occur in this age group every year. The risk of falling increases as we age because of muscle strength decline, changes in balance and gait, inactivity, multiple severe chronic health conditions and more prescription medication use.

So, what can you to decrease the chances of you or a love one falling?

  1. Ask your health care provider to evaluate your risk of falling.
  2. Have your pharmacist review your medications, prescription and over-the-counter, for any that cause dizziness or sleepiness.
  3. Do exercises that strengthen your leg muscles and improve balance.
    Tai Chi is one such type of exercise. For others, click on this link to the National Institutes of Health Senior Health site:

https://nihseniorhealth.gov/exerciseandphysicalactivityexercisestotry/balanceexercises/01.html

  1. Have your eyes checked at least once a year.

If you wear bifocals or progressive lenses, talk to your eye health provider about getting a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription.Sometimes bifocals or progressive lenses make things seems closer than they really are, increasing the risk of falling.

  1. Remove things in your home that you can trip over – like scatter/throw rugs, loose carpeting -  especially on stairs.
  2. Repair/replace uneven flooring tiles.
  3. Install grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
  4. Put railings on both sides of stairs, if possible.
  5. Use brighter light bulbs and avoid walking around in dim light or in the dark.
  6. Install night lights for those middle of the night trips to the bathroom.

For more information:

National Council on Aging –
Preventing Falls: Tips for Older Adults and Caregivers
https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/preventing-falls-tips-for-older-adults-and-caregivers/

National Institutes of Health – Video Library
Falls and Older Adults - https://nihseniorhealth.gov/videolist.html#exercise

American Heart Association –
Strength and Balancing Exercises
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/CardiacRehab/Strength-and-Balance-Exercises_UCM_307384_Article.jsp#.V-m_h8kVW6Q