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Governor Noem declares September 23 Falls Prevention Awareness Day

BROOKINGS, S.D. - Falling is not a normal part of growing older. Falls cost our Nation an estimated $95,000 per minute in 2015, totaling $50 billion. Factors that increase fall risk are well known and strategies to prevent falls are well documented. Despite this knowledge, South Dakota was ranked fifth in the nation for death from falls between 2007 and 2016. 

Falls Prevention Awareness Day will increase knowledge about how to prevent falls among older adults.

“There are a lot of little things that we can do to reduce our risk of falling.”

— Leacey Brown, SDSU Extension Gerontology Field Specialist

For example, installing night lights in hallways and stairways reduces our risk of falling by making it easier to see trip hazards, such as a pet. Other things we can do include reducing clutter, removing trip hazards (e.g., electrical cords) from walkways, having routine vision and hearing exams, wearing sensible shoes, discussing medication side effects with your pharmacist and exercising regularly, especially doing resistance or strength training. 

Hope Kleine, SDSU Extension Health Education Field Specialist, says, “Physical activity is among the most important things we can do to help reduce falls.” If it’s been a while since you have exercised, she notes sometimes it can be difficult to get started again. 

“That’s why SDSU Extension is offering programs with a track record of helping participants get back into exercising, which helps to keep their body stronger and reduce fall risk,” said Kleine. SDSU Extension has received grant support for two such programs, the Walk With Ease program and the Fit & Strong! program.

Walk With Ease is an evidence-based, six-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 six weeks, meeting three times a week for one hour.

Fit & Strong! is geared toward individuals with osteoarthritis. It teaches one how to exercise safely. “What puts people with osteoarthritis at risk is the pain they feel often discourages them from being active,” stated Brown. When this happens, the body becomes weaker. A weak body is more likely to fall. “If we can keep individuals strong and moving, their chance of falling goes down. This is a benefit to families and communities across the state,” said Brown.

SDSU Extension is in the early stages of implementing both workshops. Currently, upcoming workshops will be taking place in Mitchell, Chamberlain, Brookings and Sioux Falls. SDSU Extension is looking for organizations interested in making these workshops more widely available throughout the state. For more information, contact Hope Kleine at 605.688.6901 or by email by email