Nancy Vasquez is an Eskaton guest blogger and the Direct Services Administrator at the Agency on Aging\Area 4, serving older adults in Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba Counties.
Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans age 65+ falls every year? While it may be common, falling is not a normal part of aging. Knowing what factors contribute to falls is the first step in preventing them from occurring (ncoa.org).
I’ve been providing services at the Agency on Aging\Area 4 for over twenty years. One of the things I am most proud of is the development of a program called Live Strong and Safe! This four-class series focuses on the four most important topics related to helping older adults reduce their risk of falling: medication management, vision checks, home safety, and physical activity.
As we stay home to lessen our risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19, we might find our physical activity level tapering off. Reducing our activity actually increases our risk of a fall. The good news is there are several things we can do to help lessen our fall risk while staying safely at home.
Get Moving - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Move Your Way campaign reminds us that it's never too late to increase our level of activity. If it’s been a while since you exercised regularly, start slowly and only do those activities you feel most comfortable with. Even a daily stroll as brief as 5 minutes can have a positive impact on your health. Increase your level of activity as you build stamina and confidence. Try different ways to improve your flexibility and balance, as both will significantly reduce your risk of an injury-inducing fall. Click here for more information.
Explore Online Workout Videos - Go4Life, an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, is designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life. You can find their free exercise videos on their YouTube channel.
Improve Home Safety - Use this time to complete a home safety checklist to identify and fix hazards around the house. Small changes, like clearing clutter, removing slippery rugs, and wearing well-fitted shoes with good support, can make a big difference. The Centers for Disease Control STEADI program provides a Check For Safety brochure that can help you make changes now, and can help you devise a list of things that others can assist you with when they’re able to visit.
Speak Up, Stay Independent - The CDC STEADI program reminds us that a fall injury can have serious health consequences. If you are concerned about falling, talk openly with your healthcare provider about your fall risk and fall prevention. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines, and use their Stay Independent checklist to identify concerns that you can discuss with your doctor.
Though not all falls are preventable, there are many things we can do to reduce our risk of falling. The Agency on Aging\Area 4 looks forward to seeing you when in-person fall prevention and health promotion classes can safely resume. Until then, we are in the process of developing virtual classes, so stay tuned!
Let's keep moving to Live Strong and Safe!