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Preventing Falls a Focus of DHMC Injury Prevention Center

September 19, 2011
Lebanon, NH

In concert with the New Hampshire Falls Risk Reduction Task Force's observance of Friday, September 23, 2011 as Falls Prevention Awareness Day, the DHMC Injury Prevention Center is offering a range of tips to help aging residents of the Upper Valley stay upright and avoid disabling injuries.

"Falls among older Granite Staters can negatively affect the individual's health and sense of security, and also can have an impact on the entire family," says Jim Esdon, manager of the Injury Prevention Center. "We're using the first day of autumn to mark the beginning of an ongoing effort to help New Hampshire older adults and their families become aware of the risks and do what they can to prevent them. Doing so will help our older neighbors remain safely in their homes and our community."

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 30 percent of adults age 65 and older living in the community fall each year, as do more than half of all older adults living in residential care facilities or nursing homes. Such falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma in older adults.

Here are five easy ways to prevent falls:

  • Increase physical activity. Simple exercise, like walking or swimming at least 15 minutes a day, can help build muscle strength and improve balance, as can regular exercise programs such as tai chi.
  • See your eye doctor once each year. Age-related diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy can increase the risk of falling.
  • Review your medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your existing prescriptions, including whether they may cause drowsiness or dizziness either on their own or in combination with other medications.
  • Remove environmental hazards. Look around the house for anything that could increase the risk of falls, and either remove or modify poor lighting, loose rugs, slippery floors, or unsteady furniture.
  • Think, plan and slow down. Many falls are caused by hurrying. Better to think through the task you are performing, and assess whether it might lead to a fall.

For more information on how to prevent falls, visit the New Hampshire Falls Risk Reduction Task Force or the DHMC Injury Prevention Center, or call the Injury Prevention Center at (603) 653-8360.

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