Fall is in the Air
September is a wonderful time of the year when we get to leave the summer heat behind as the air gets crisp and the leaves begin to change. We look forward to the Major League Baseball playoffs that will soon be taking place and to the football season ahead. This time of year often brings families and friends together to share their love of sports and outdoors. It is a time that grandparents pass down their love and knowledge of the game but most importantly a time where memories are made and relationships are strengthened.
Be sure to mark your calendar! September 13th is National Grandparents Day. Take this opportunity to send a card, make a phone call or plan a visit or outing with your grandparents. Don’t forget to let your grandparents know how important and special they are to you!
The first day of fall, September 23rd is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day. This day sponsored by the National Council on Aging is designed to raise awareness about preventing fall-related injuries among older adults. The theme for 2015 is “Take a Stand to Prevent Falls”.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three adults 65 and older fall each year and that falls are the leading cause of injury. Older adults who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again. A fall can limit an older adult’s activity, it can lead to being socially isolated, and it can cause loss of independence, disability, institutionalization and potentially death. The death rate from falls among older adults increased by 55% from 2000 to 2007: in 2011, more than 21,700 older Americans died from injuries related to unintentional falls. The total cost of fall injuries for older Americans was estimated to be $36 billion dollars in 2012. By 2020, the annual direct and indirect cost of fall injuries is expected to reach $59.6 billion including a Medicare cost of more than $32 billion. Falls are not an inevitable part of aging, however, the risks definitely increase with age. The good news is that potential risks factors for falls can be reduced.
The National Council on Aging has some helpful tips to keep us from falling:
- Exercise regularly – Find a good program in your community that focuses on balance and stability exercises.
- Talk to your health care provider – Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of recent falls with your health care provider.
- Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist – Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling. Take medications only as prescribed.
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses – The key to good balance is having good eyesight and hearing. Take care of yourself by ensuring you are up to date on these check-ups.
- Keep your home safe – Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.
- Talk with your family members – Family members are a great source of encouragement and support. Letting them know about a recent fall is a good way to keep communication lines open and will allow them to help you find programs and activities that will keep you strong and active. Your communication enables them to help you remain independent for as long as possible.
By engaging in the above activities, you can help reduce your risk of falling. Check with your local health care provider or local senior center for balance and coordination fitness activities that you can join. Plan to attend the Bishop Begley Conference on September 19th for a presentation on “Falls & Aging: Understanding the Impact of Falls in the Lives of Older Adults, with Prevention Tips.” Hope to see you in Brevard on the 19th.
By Sandra Breakfield
Elder Ministry Program Director