Falls Prevention Awareness

by Jim Meyer, MU Extension Nutrition and Health Education Specialist

The 12th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD) was September 23, 2019. This year we wanted to remind everyone that falls prevention is a team effort. MU Extension contributes to this effort by teaching Matter of Balance – A falls prevention program across the state. I recently completed a program in Palmyra and I am looking forward to offering more programs in the area.
According to the National Council on Aging (NCOA) falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors' safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.

However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs like Matter of Balance, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

• One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year.

• Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.

• Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.

• Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 850,000 hospitalizations and more than 29,000 deaths.

• In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion.
The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020. Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
Older adults can find help. If you have balance issues or know a family member that has balance issues, please have them contact my office at 573-985-3911. I am hoping to hold another MOB class in Ralls County in the near future. The MOB program is free and offers seniors a great resource to help with fall related issues.
For more information about falls prevention, please visit the NCOA web site at ncoa.org.