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Fall Prevention Begins at Home

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10 Myths about Preventing Falls

By Jennifer Footit-Tank, quality care coordinator at Network Health
Originally published on 9/21/2020 at 3:04 p.m.

Every year, one in four older adults over age 64 experiences a fall. Falls are serious and can lead to injury or disability. For many, a fall can indicate a more serious need for medical attention. Falls can also cause serious medical and quality-of-life issues, making prevention crucial.

When is Fall Prevention Awareness Week

In 2021, Fall Prevention Awareness Week takes places between Monday, September 20 and Friday, September 24. During this week, we work to share the steps you can take to help prevent serious falls and reduce the risk of minor falls.

We’ll start by examining and clearing up some myths about preventing falls.

Myth 1: Being Afraid of Falling Will Make Me More Cautious

Falling is not a normal part of aging. The fear of falling, however, is very real and becomes more common as people age. While you may think this fear helps to decrease your chance of a fall injury, it can have negative mental and physical effects.

The fear of falling may cause you to decrease your activity level or isolate in your home, which can increase your risk of falls.

Addressing your concerns about falls and building a safety plan with family and your personal doctor can tame the fear and empower you to take charge.

Myth 2: If I Stay at Home, Then I Won’t Fall

Most falls occur within the home. Cluttered walkways, loose throw rugs, uneven flooring and stairs without railings can all be significant hazards.

Complete a home assessment and make necessary modifications such as improving the lighting on the stairways, install grab bars in showers or move furniture to create wider walkways.

Myth 3: Medication Does Not Affect my Risk of Falls

Several medications can increase your risk of falls due to side effects or drug interactions. Even if you’re only taking one, talk with your personal doctor or pharmacist to understand how your medication may affect you.

Myth 4: I Don’t Need to Exercise Because I Can’t Get Stronger

Both flexibility and strength can be regained if you exercise routinely and correctly. Your balance will also improve, further reducing your chance of a fall. Being active and strong can be a large part of your falls prevention plan. Be sure to consult with your personal doctor before starting any exercise or fitness plan.

Myth 5: I don’t Need a Cane or a Walker, I Can Hang onto Furniture or the Counter

While walking, holding onto furniture or counters increases your risk for falls because your balance is not stable.

Using an assistive device for walking is very important for preventing falls. These devices improve your stability and confidence with movement both within and outside of your home.

Working with a certified therapist to ensure a proper fit of the device is important. A poorly fitted device can increase your risk for falls.

Myth 6: I Don’t Need to Tell My Doctor if I Have a Fall That Does Not Result in an Injury

Any fall should be mentioned to your personal doctor to determine and address the cause(s). Being proactive and resolving any potential complications could prevent you from a future fall which could result in a more serious injury.

Myth 7: Having my Hearing and Vision Checked Yearly is Unnecessary

Annual vision and hearing checks are important for more than just ensuring your senses are in order. These checks can also prevent falls. Vision issues can double your risk of falling. Without these annual checks, changes in vision and hearing can be subtle and hard to detect.

Schedule these appointments the same month of your annual wellness visit with your personal doctor. Then you can discuss any changes with him or her.

Myth 8: Chronic Health Conditions Do Not Affect My Falls Risk

Chronic conditions, like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, can affect a person’s strength and activity tolerance, require multiple medications or even cause depression. These increased risks raise the possibility of a fall. Working with your personal doctor to effectively manage your chronic conditions can result in a decreased risk of falls and improved quality of life.

Myth 9: If I Tell Love Ones I Have Fallen, I Will Have to Leave my Home

Involving your family about your concerns with falling will allow you to work together as a team to address your needs, allowing you to be safe and independent in your home. Together, you can remove or rearrange furniture for safer walkways, look for community programs concerning fall safety or schedule appointments with your personal doctor.

Myth 10: There Aren’t Any Community Programs to Help Me

Many communities have senior center programs centered around preventing falls, exercise and safety education. Websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also have many educational articles on the topic.

Another resource is your local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) for referrals to local community programs. 

Network Health can also send you a falls education brochure that references some of these programs.

Prevent Falls and Grow Closer to Your Care Network During September

Being proactive and speaking with your personal doctor or family about your falls safety concerns can possibly prevent a future fall and injury. Receiving an evaluation on your health, medications, physical balance and gait will help to build a safety plan you are comfortable with. With a plan in place, your confidence in your ability to be active will reward you with peace of mind.

For more information on preventing falls, contact Network Health today.

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