Oswego County Health Department Urges Seniors to Learn How to Prevent Falls

Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older loses their balance and falls. Falls can lead to injuries, such as hip fractures and head trauma, and can even increase the risk of early death.

Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable. National Fall Prevention Awareness Day will be celebrated on Friday, Sept. 23, and the Oswego County Health Department is working with community partners to raise awareness about ways to prevent falls in Oswego County’s senior population.

“Falls are not accidents,” said Dr. Dennis Norfleet, Director of Public Health for Oswego County. “They occur in predictable patterns, with recognizable risk factors and among identifiable populations. A fall is a predictable and preventable event,” he added.

What places an individual at an increased risk for fall related injuries?

• Aging increases the risk of falling and the severity of injury if falls occur;

• Chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or previous stroke;

• Vision problems;

• Those taking four or more medications;

• People who have previously fallen;

• Those who suffer from sleep disturbances;

• Those that have difficulty walking or with balance; and

• Those with leg weakness.

There are simple tasks that can be done to make falls less likely. If you are 65 or older, take the following steps to reduce your risk:

• Keep your vision sharp -have your eyes checked every year.

• Get some exercise – this helps improve strength and balance.

• Be mindful of medications – combinations of medicines—can have side effects like dizziness or drowsiness, and make falls more likely.

• Eliminate hazards at home – most falls happen at home, reducing clutter, improving lighting, and adding grab bars can help reduce the risk of falling.

Fortunately these small steps can help prevent injuries and disabilities associated with falls and help seniors preserve independence and self-sufficiency. If you would like more information on preventing falls contact that Oswego County Health Department at 349-3547.