Falls Prevention Efforts in Cattaraugus County
Older adults across the U.S. are discovering that many falls are preventable, and if they take action to prevent falls, they can maintain their independence much longer. Moreover, falls prevention programs in many communities like ours are helping older adults to begin controlling falls risk by changing some daily habits and making simple modifications around the home.
“We hope that by increasing the awareness of falls in older adults we can decrease the number of Americans who will suffer from a fall,” said Catherine Mackay, director of the Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging/NY Connects. “As the population ages, the rate of falls has risen consistently over the last 10 years. We want to keep seniors independent and living safe, active lifestyles.”
Falls are a big health care concern, with 1 out of 3 people over 65 suffering a fall each year and 1 of 10 falls ending up with hospitalization. A study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also showed that more than half of fall injuries, 56 percent, occurred at home.
The “Step Up to Stop Falls” campaign is being conducted by the Cattaraugus County Falls Prevention Coalition. The Coalition is a collective effort between the Cattaraugus County Health Department, Cattaraugus County Department of the Aging/NY Connects, Healthy Community Alliance, Home Care & Hospice, Total Senior Care and the Upper Allegany Health Systems.
There are four steps for older adults to decrease the likelihood of a fall.
Identify areas that may put you at risk, such as your home environment and/or your physical challenges.
Know your medicines and check with your doctor if they may contribute to dizziness or feeling off balance. If medicine isn’t the problem, make an appointment to get your vision checked.
Make your home safer: Address items such as throw rugs, loose cords, clutter and poor lighting.
Finally, be in balance – special exercises to improve balance really do work!
“By following these steps to prevent falls, older adults will also realize numerous other benefits,” adds Ms. Mackay. “These benefits include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, being more physically fit, having a sense of security in one’s own home, and building confidence in balance. Again, our main emphasis of falls prevention is the primary benefit of independence, which all older adults strive for.”
For more information on the Falls Prevention programs available, or to obtain a free falls risk checklist, please contact Stacy Lockwood-Hall, Cattaraugus County Department of Aging/NY Connects, at (716) 373-8032.
The “Step Up to Stop Falls” campaign for this community is supported by a grant from the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York. It is part of the Foundation’s initiative across multiple counties in both regions to develop effective preventive measures to minimize falls among older adults.
The Health Foundation is a non-profit private foundation, the mission of which is to improve the health and healthcare of the people of Western and Central New York.