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Sheaffer: Fall Awareness

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Fall awareness. Yes, the wind is getting a bit chilly sometimes, and leaves are bouncing along the roads, but I also want to talk about fall prevention--obviously not the season since we can't really prevent that.

This time out, let's take a look at how falls can impact our lives--and how we can possibly avoid such incidents.

September 22nd was Fall Prevention Awareness Day, and during the month a lot of information is disseminated about the topic. For example, a recent statistic estimates that every 11 seconds an older adult lands in the emergency room as a result of a fall-related injury, and about one third of those 65 or older are part of this dynamic.

Other observations?

  • More women than men actually break bones when they fall
  • More men than women experience fatal falls
  • Medicines and/or illnesses contribute heavily to the numbers

This type of event certainly isn't limited to "older" (whatever that means) adults, though that's often the focus. From the time we begin to walk, we also begin to fall. We can, however, limit the opportunities for injury.

If you have an illness or disability, getting your medical provider in the mix is usually a no-brainer, but talking about the possibility of a fall may not be routine. Review your meds with your provider or pharmacist--is dizziness one of the side effects?

What about an eye doctor? Do you remember the last time you had an eye exam? Or had new glasses? Poor vision is another large cause of stumbling and falling--especially in low light.

Speaking of low light--are your hallways and stairs bright enough to see clearly? And are they free from throw rugs or anything else that can tangle you up?

If all this is taken care of, how's your balance in general? When younger (again, whatever that means) and more active in sports, exercise or just life in general, balance may not be considered much. However, if living a more sedentary life, sometimes moving too quickly can result in temporary dizziness or imbalance.

Exercise programs that build balance, flexibility and strength come in a variety of venues and gym memberships aren't the only option. Exercises such as Tai Chi and yoga have shown to benefit all of the former, while remaining pretty low impact.

A big part of fall prevention goes back to awareness. Take a look around. Do a self-inventory. Adapt. Be safe.

Information & Assistance

Long Beach: (360) 642-3634/(888) 571-6558

Raymond: (360) 942-2177/(888) 571-6557

www.o3a.org

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