LAS VEGAS – A fear of falling is a very real fear for many older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.8 million older adults each year are treated in emergency departments due to injuries sustained in a fall. That means one in four adults will experience a fall and of those, fewer than half will discuss it with a health care provider. Fortunately, many falls are preventable and do not have to be an inevitable part of aging, according to the National Council on Aging, which has tips and resources for older adults and caregivers on the Falls Prevention section of its website.nformation is also available on the Senior Fall Prevention section of the Get Healthy Clark County website.
Before and during Falls Prevention Awareness Week, Sept. 22-28, free fall risk assessments will be available at various locations. Check the individual events for registration requirements:
- Friday, Sept. 21, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Spring Mountain Rehab – 7375 Prairie Falcon Rd Ste 120, Las Vegas, Nevada 89128. Contact: (702) 869 – 4401
Among Clark County residents age 65 and older, falls are the number one cause of injury-related death as well as injury-related emergency department visits. The CDC reports that 800,000 people are hospitalized each year due to a fall-related injury and mostly due to a head injury or a hip fracture. Ninety-five percent of hip fractures are caused by a fall.
Older adults are encouraged to discuss their risk of falling with their health care providers, who can provide a fall risk assessment. Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling, causing them to limit their activities. This can lead to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, which, in turn, can actually increase the risk of falling. Evidence-based programs are available for seniors to reduce their risks and focus on increasing muscle strength and balance.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors, including:
- Lower body weakness
- Difficulties with balance and walking
- Medications, including over-the-counter medicines
- Vision problems
- Foot pain
- Home hazards such as throw rugs, clutter, bad lighting, broken steps
- Vitamin D deficiency
The CDC also provides statistics and information to reduce the risk of falls on the Important Facts about Falls section of its website.
- Exercise regularly to improve bone health, balance, and coordination.
- Make homes safer by removing items from stairs/walkways to prevent tripping, avoid using step stools, use non-slip mats in tubs and showers, improve lighting, remove throw rugs or put double-sided tape on them to prevent slipping, install handrails/lights on staircases.
- Consult a healthcare provider to review medications as some can cause lightheadedness or drowsiness and increase the risk of falling.
- Have a vision check, because poor vision or incorrect lens prescriptions can increase the risk of falls.
Access information about the Southern Nevada Health District on its website: www.SNHD.info. Follow the Health District on Facebook: www.facebook.com/SouthernNevadaHealthDistrict, YouTube: www.youtube.com/SNHealthDistrict, Twitter: www.twitter.com/SNHDinfo, and Instagram: www.instagram.com/southernnevadahealthdistrict/. The Health District is available in Spanish on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TuSNHD. Don’t have a Twitter account? Follow the Health District on your phone by texting “follow SNHDinfo” to 40404. Additional information and data can be accessed through the Healthy Southern Nevada website: www.HealthySouthernNevada.org.