Taking Action to Reduce the Risk of Falls
September 18-22 is Falls Prevention Awareness Week. The Administration for Community Living’s National Falls Prevention Resource Center created this public health observance to raise awareness of the impact of falls and help people take action to prevent them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 36 million older Americans experience a fall each year. Among older adults, one out of five falls cause a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. As a result, falls are the leading cause of injury and death among people over age 65. For this population, falls and resulting injuries also can increase the likelihood of nursing-home admission. Injuries sustained due to falls are also a major threat to the health and independence of millions of people with disabilities.
Moreover, recent data suggest that falls are under reported among people with disabilities; a 2022 report from the General Accountability Office found that self-reported falls among adults with disabilities aged 45 to 59 were even higher than those reported by people 60 and over.
Evidence-based falls prevention programs, which combine education and exercise, can help people build strength, stability, and flexibility while also having fun and socializing with others. These falls prevention programs can also provide evaluation of home safety and, if needed, can make home modifications. This includes actions such as removing rugs that can create tripping hazards or installing grab bars in bathrooms, which can make a big difference. Regularly reviewing the medicines a person takes with a doctor or pharmacist can help identify increased risk of falling and provide an opportunity to take additional precautions.
Paths to Health NM
Falls Prevention Programs are proven to help older adults reduce their risk of falls and injuries through muscle strengthening, balance and gait training. Four evidence-based fall prevention programs are available through Paths to Health NM:
- A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls, a program designed to reduce the fear of falling and increase physical activity
- Otago, a program for older adults at the highest level of fall risk
- Tai Chi for Arthritis, a fall prevention exercise program
- Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance®, a program to improve balance and strength
Contact Adult Falls Prevention Coordinator with the New Mexico Department of Health at (505) 476-3082 for more information on falls prevention and class availability.
- Falls Free CheckUp is a 13-question online screening tool that individuals, family caregivers, or service providers can use to help determine a person’s risk of falling.
- 6 Easy Steps to Avoid a Fall is a 2-minute video on how to avoid falls.
- The Home Usability Program offers a range of resources to help identify issues in the home that can lead to falls and changes that can be made to increase usability. The program includes information on how people can access resources to assist with home modifications.
This post is an excerpt of the Administration for Community Living’s Falls Prevention Awareness Week 2023 webpage.