Falls are Not a Normal Part of Aging

It was a normal day. Mrs. Matthews was busy baking cookies for her grandchildren who would be visiting that weekend. She and her husband live in a friendly retirement community. She prides herself on keeping a neat, uncluttered, and very organized home. She is very healthy but her husband moves more slowly and they are concerned about him falling. Mrs. Matthews had just placed a tray of cookies in the oven, and turned to put down the oven mitt when she fell. The fall took her by surprise and caused her some concern. She found herself going over the events of the day and asking herself: How did that happen? Will it happen again? What if it had been her husband?

Falls are not a normal part of aging, yet one in three adults age 65 and older falls every year. Falls-related injuries are the leading cause of death for older adults and are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. Even if no injuries occur after a fall, many people develop a fear of falling, which in turn often causes them to limit their activities. This can result in reduced mobility and loss of physical conditioning, increasing the risk of falling.

You can take matters into your own hands and prevent falls from occurring by “Stepping On”. Stepping On is a FREE program offered through The University of Colorado Hospital and Aurora Fire Rescue that empowers older adults to carry out health behaviors that reduce the risks of falls. It is a community-based workshop offered once a week for seven weeks. In a small-group setting you will learn balance exercises and develop specific knowledge and skills to prevent falls. Subjects covered include: improving balance and strength, home modifications, community safety, vision, medication review, safe footwear, and sleep. The workshops are facilitated by a trained leader, and guest experts such as physical therapists, pharmacists, and vision specialists are brought in to teach certain sessions.

Stepping On is ideal for older adults who: are at risk of falling, have fallen or have a fear of falling, live in their own home or independent living facility, and are cognitively intact.

The next Stepping On program starts this September. For more information please call Trauma Services at 720-848-4805 or email preventioninfo@uchealth.org.

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