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Spread the word: Falls can be dangerous, prevention is key

September 26, 2018
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

We've all heard the stories: Your parent, former coworker, or elderly neighbor has a nasty fall at home. They spend some time in the hospital and hopefully make a full recovery. But even after they return home, things just aren't the same. They may stay at home and limit their activities because of a fear of falling again.

Each year, one in every three older adults experiences a fall. Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury among adults age 65 and over. More tragically, falls are also the leading cause of accidental death among seniors.

Sept. 22 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, a day for caregivers, educators, health professionals and older adults to spread the word about the danger of falls and how to prevent them. Falls don't need to be an inevitable part of aging. With education and intervention, we can reduce the number of seniors injured through these accidents.

How can we help older adults? There are several easy ways to prevent falls.

First, regular exercise is vital for fall prevention. By strengthening leg muscles and improving balance, seniors can decrease their likelihood of a fall.

Older adults should also review their medications with their doctor or pharmacist. Many medicines can cause dizziness or drowsiness. Knowing the potential side effects of over-the-counter and prescription medications can help us all exercise caution.

Speaking of doctors, the eye doctor can be helpful in preventing falls. Having their vision checked annually can help our elders stay safer.

Finally, it's always good to check our homes and workplaces for potential tripping hazards. Loose rugs and slippery surfaces may be the obvious culprits, but stairs without railings and poor lighting can also cause accidents. Installing grab bars in the bathroom can also prevent potential calamities.

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida (AAASWFL) is one of our area's fall prevention leaders. Our agency offers workshops in seven counties to help older adults to reduce their chances of falling and remain independent. These workshops, funded through the Federal Older Americans Act, focus on increasing strength and improving balance. In 2017, AAASWFL assisted nearly more than 450 seniors with fall prevention programming and other workshops to keep our older adults healthy and safe. To find out about future workshops, call the Elder Helpline at 866-413-5337 or visit

Every 20 minutes in our country, an older adult dies from a fall-related injury. Fortunately, there are proven ways to prevent falls and the potential ramifications. We can all make a difference on National Falls Prevention Awareness Day and every day.

Sherry Young

Health & Wellness/Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinator

Area Agency on Aging

for Southwest Florida



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