National Falls Prevention Awareness Day
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma related hospital admissions among older adults. Sadly, every 19 minutes, an older adult dies as the result of a fall. 
Not only can they cause injury and death, but falls can also greatly impact quality of life. If an older adult fears falling, they may limit their social engagements and activities, leading to further physical decline, depression, isolation, or feelings of helplessness. 
If you have an aging parent, grandparent, or neighbor in your life, helping them reduce their risk of falling is one way to encourage their long-term health and independence. 
Common Factors That Can Lead to a Fall:
- Balance and Gait
- Chronic Conditions 
Steps to Protect Yourself from a Fall:
- Find a good balance and exercise program.
- Talk to your health care provider – assess your risk of falling.
- Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses.
- Keep your home safe – remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, and install grab bars in key areas.
- Enlist the support of friends and family to help check and red your home of hazards. 
Source: National Council on Aging 
Steps to Protect Your Older Loved One from a Fall:
- Enlist their support.
- If they’re concerned about falling, dizziness, or balance, suggest they discuss it with their health care provider who can assess their risk and suggest helpful services and programs.
- Discuss their current health conditions.
- Find out if they’re having any problems managing their own health.
- Can they remember to take medications? Are there side effects?
- Is it getting more difficult to do certain things they used to do easily?
- Are they having trouble with hearing or vision changes?
- Encourage them to talk with their health care provider about any of the above concerns.
- Ask about their last eye checkup.
- If they wear glasses, make sure their prescription is current and they’re using the glasses prescribed by their eye doctor.
- Tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from the bright outdoors to darkened buildings and homes. Have them change their glasses upon entry or stop and wait until their lenses adjust.
- Remember that bifocals can be challenging on stairs.
- If they are struggling with low vision, specialists can help them make the most of their eyesight.
- Notice if they are holding on to walls, furniture, or other items when walking; or having difficulty walking or arising from a chair.
- Physical therapy can help with these challenges and help your loved one improve their balance, strength, and gait through exercise.
- Physical therapists may also suggest a cane or walker. Be sure to follow their instructions as improper use or fit can increase the risk of falling.
- Ask them about their medications.
- If your older loved one is having trouble keeping track of their medications or is experiencing side effects, encourage them to discuss their concerns with their doctor and pharmacist.
- Suggest that they have their medications reviewed each time they get a new prescription.
- Do a walk-through safety assessment of their home.
- Lighting: Increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of the stairs. Ensure that lighting is easy to access in the middle of the night.
- Stairs: Make sure there are two secure rails on all stairs.
- Bathrooms: Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they’re installed in the proper location for your older loved one to use them. For increased safety, you can install a shower chair and hand-held shower. 
2. National Council on Aging. (2017). 6 Steps to Protect Your Older Loved One. Retrieved from: https://d2mkcg26uvg1cz.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/6-Steps-to-Protect-Your-Older-Loved-One.pdf
3. National Council on Aging. (2017). 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall Infographic. Retrieved from: https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/preventing-falls-tips-for-older-adults-and-caregivers/take-control-of-your-health-6-steps-to-prevent-a-fall/
4. National Council on Aging (2019). Falls Prevention Awareness Day Social Media Images. Retrieved from: https://www.ncoa.org/resources/falls-prevention-awareness-day-2019-social-media-images/