By Kathy Ferguson, RN, Parish Nurse
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:8
In May I had the opportunity to attend leader training for the Stepping On program. Stepping On is a program that empowers older adults to carry out health behaviors that reduce the risks of falls. The program was developed in Australia where it demonstrated a 31% decrease in falls. The Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging developed an American version of the program which showed a nearly 50% decrease in falls. So, you may be thinking—“why is this important?” If you are someone who has experienced a fall, you probably know why preventing falls is important.
- Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among those age 65 and older.
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.
- Each year, 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.
- Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
- 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.
Falls can be prevented. According to the CDC, these are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling.
- Talk to Your Doctor
- Ask your healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy.
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about taking vitamin D
- Do Strength and Balance Exercises
Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance. Tai Chi is a good example of this kind of exercise.
- Have Your Eyes Checked
Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and update your eyeglasses if needed.
- Make Your Home Safer
- Get rid of things you could trip over. Throw rugs are a particular hazard.
- Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Put railings on both sides of stairs.
- Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.
Are you interested in reducing your risk of falling? We will be having Stepping On classes at Bethel within the next few months. This program will run for seven sessions of two hours each. The classes are followed by a home visit by the class leader and then three months later, a Booster Session. Topics covered will include exercises to help improve strength and balance, home hazards, vision and falls, community safety, footwear, medication management, bone health, and others. It is a fun, interactive course! Watch the bulletin announcements, Bethel e-News, and flyers in the church for more information in the weeks ahead.