September 23 is Fall Prevention Awareness Day. Did you know that falls cost our Nation an estimated $95,000 per minute in 2015 ($50 billion total). Falling is not a normal part of growing older. Despite this knowledge, South Dakota was ranked fifth in the nation for death from falls among older adults between 2007 and 2016.
Fall Prevention Tips
Tips to reduce the risk of falling for yourself or a loved one include:
- Reduce Clutter: remove rugs, or make sure they are safely in place. Ensure that any clutter such as wires, cords, books, etc. are removed from the walkway. Additionally, make sure walkways are well-lit.
- Ensure handrails are well secured on BOTH sides of stairways.
- Move any unreachable items to lower shelves or tables, or use a stable stepstool to reach items that are higher up.
- In the bathroom, make sure that the bathmat is securely in place and install handrails near the bathtub/shower and near the toilet.
- Make sure your home is free of any tripping hazards:
- Move any cords from hallways or walkways.
- Make sure walkways are free from furniture and ensure that rugs are tacked down.
- Store any needed objects within easy reach.
- Repair loose floorboards, baseboards, or carpeting to prevent trips.
- Get ears and eyes checked regularly. Any slight change in sight or hearing can increase risk of fall.
- Let your doctor know of any side effects of medications, such as dizziness or fatigue that could cause a fall. Additionally, inform your doctor of any falls that have occurred since your last appointment, even if you were not hurt in the fall.
- Use an assistive device such as a walker or cane, if needed. Make sure the device is the right size and that it is in proper working condition.
- Wear proper footwear that fits correctly and supports feet.
- Physical activity reduces the risk of falls. Light exercise such as walking keeps muscles strong and joints flexible.
SDSU Extension Fitness Programs
If it’s been a while since you have exercised, sometimes it can be difficult to get started again. SDSU Extension is here to help! We have two programs with a proven track record of helping participants get back into exercising which helps keep their body strong and may reduce their risk of falls.
Walk With Ease
“Walk With Ease” is an evidence-based 6-week walking program that teaches individuals how to safely make physical activity part of their everyday life. The program is geared toward those with arthritis, but is also open to anyone looking to become more active. The program teaches proper stretching and strengthening exercises, health education for symptom management, as well as how to build stamina and walking pace. The program lasts 6 weeks, meeting 3x/week for one hour.
Fit & Strong!
“Fit & Strong!” is designed to teach adults with osteoarthritis how to exercise safely with arthritis. “Fit & Strong!” has a proven track record of facilitating arthritis symptom management, building confidence in ability to exercise safely with arthritis, and increasing commitment to lifestyle change, ultimately, reducing fall risk. The “Fit & Strong!” program can either be offered for eight weeks, with participants coming together three times a week or 12 weeks coming together twice a week. In addition, participants meet with their “Fit & Strong!” Instructor to develop an individualized exercise plan to foster ongoing maintenance of a balanced physical activity routine.
Visit our “Events” page to find a “Walk With Ease” or “Fit & Strong!” workshop near you!
Want to learn more about fall prevention? View the following resources:
- Preventing Falls Around Pets, StopFalls.org
- Annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day Webinar, National Council on Aging
- 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall Infographic, National Council on Aging
- Falls Prevention Fact Sheet, National Council on Aging
Disclaimer: The preceding is presented for informational purposes only. SDSU Extension does not endorse the services, methods or products described herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind regarding them.