September 20-24 Is Falls Prevention Awareness Week
Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) officials report that nearly one in three Montanans aged 65 and older have reported falling at least once in the last 12 months.
Further, about 1,900 Montanans were hospitalized due to unintentional falls in 2020. And, one in five falls result in a serious injury.
DPHHS Falls Prevention Program Manager Melissa Dale said the issue really begins to impact Montanans after age 55. She added that while falling is not a normal part of aging, as a person ages they are at an increased risk for falling, as well as sustaining an injury due to a fall.
“The reality is that a majority of falls are preventable by making practical lifestyle changes,” Dale said. “Knowing your risk factors of falling and how to make adjustments to reduce the risks can be the difference of living independently or sustaining a serious injury.”
Dale said that falls are costly, both in dollars and quality of life. The most common injuries sustained from a fall are hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries.
There are several easy tips to prevent falls, including these six simple steps:
- Start or maintain an exercise program
- Talk with your health care provider
- Review your medication with your doctor and/or pharmacist
- Have your vision and hearing checked every year
- Keep your home safe (and how to be safe when outdoors)
- Talk with your family
DPHHS and the National Council on Aging (NCOA) have partnered to bring awareness for older Montanans to determine their risk factor for falling. The NCOA has a free, falls risk assessment tool—Falls Free Check-Up at www.ncoa.org/article/falls-free-checkup. The Falls Free Check-Up has 12, yes and no questions, and anyone can complete this assessment to determine their risk factors for falling.
Those who have multiple risk factors for falling, who have fallen, or have a fear of falling can attend a falls prevention workshop. The Montana Falls Prevention Program is working closely with local communities across the state to offer classes specific to preventing falls, including Stepping On and Stay Active & Independent for Life (SAIL). Programs teach participants how to reduce the risk of falling through lifestyle modification and physical activity.
To locate the Stepping On and SAIL workshops, visit the Montana Falls Prevention website or call 1-844-684-5848.