State Officials: Take Steps to Prevent Dangerous Falls
September 23 is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day
ALBANY, N.Y. (September 23, 2011) – All New Yorkers should take precautions to prevent potentially serious falls, especially those age 65 and older, the New York State Commissioner of Heath and Acting Director of Office for the Aging said today on National Falls Prevention Day.
Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, hospitalizations and emergency department visits for older adults in New York State. Each year, approximately 900 New Yorkers over the age of 65 die as a result of falls and an additional 132,000 fall-related injuries require hospitalization. The most common injuries from falls are bone fractures, lacerations, or traumatic brain injuries.
"Falls often lead to serious injuries that can limit mobility and impact a person's daily life, but taking simple steps to prevent falls can minimize the risk," State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., said. "While older individuals are the most susceptible to harmful falls, we urge all New Yorkers to follow safe practices to avoid injuries."
"The most profound effect of falling is the loss of independent functioning. Although most falls do not result in serious injury, there is often a psychological impact which could result in an older person unnecessarily restricting his or her activities because of fear of falling," said Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging. "Many falls can be prevented by making lifestyle changes and following precautions that decrease the risk of falling."
The majority of falls resulting in hospitalization or a visit to the local emergency department occur in the home. Causes of falls include clutter on stairways or in highly-traveled walking areas, slippery floors, unstable furniture, poor lighting, or other obstructions.
Individuals should make their home safer by removing items that could cause tripping, ensuring that lighting is adequate, putting handrails on stairways, and making a full home assessment to identify and correct potential fall hazards.
Additional strategies to reduce fall risks include:
- A regular exercise program to improve strength, balance and coordination;
- Having a discussion with your health care provider to review both prescription and over-the-counter medications, or a combination of medications, that may lead to dizziness or drowsiness, which can increase the risk for falling;
- Having an annual eye exam to check for poor vision, a needed change in your eyeglasses prescription, or conditions like glaucoma that may limit a person's vision; and
- Wearing shoes both inside and outside of a home to prevent slipping.
For more information on fall prevention visit the Department of Health web site at: http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/injury_prevention/falls.htm.
To locate fall prevention programs in your area, contact your local Office for the Aging, which can be found at: http://www.aging.ny.gov/NYSOFA/LocalOffices.cfm.