For OnFOCUS WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Did you know that Wisconsin has the highest death rate due to falls for older adults of any state in the country? September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month. Here are some more startling statistics:
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult somewhere in the U.S. is admitted to an emergency department for a fall. Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from injuries from a fall.
- In Wisconsin and the nation, one of every four adults falls every year.
- In Wisconsin, 40 percent of people who enter nursing homes had a fall in the 30 days prior to admission.
- Falls cost Wisconsin over $1 billion each year.
- Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations for adults age 55+ in northcentral Wisconsin. For adults age 65+ in northcentral Wisconsin, falls are also the top cause of injury-related death.
There’s another side to falls that older adults and their loved ones need to know. “Falls are preventable and they are not a normal part of aging,” said Paul Frigoli, director of emergency services for Aspirus Riverview Hospital. “Falls Prevention Awareness Month (September) and National Falls Prevention Awareness Week (September 21-25) is a great opportunity for older adults and caregivers to learn how to prevent falls and take steps to reduce their risk.”
Aspirus and the Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) in Central Wisconsin are partnering to increase awareness of the six steps to prevent falls recommended by the CDC, National Council on Aging, and Wisconsin Institute of Healthy Aging:
- Talk to your health care provider. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling and share your history of recent falls.
- Engage in balance and strength exercises that are proven to reduce falls. Talk to your healthcare provider or physical therapist for recommendations.
- Regularly review your medications with your pharmacist and your doctor. Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling and take medications only as prescribed.
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses. People with untreated vision or hearing losses are more than three times as likely to fall.
- Keep your home safe. Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas. See the Aspirus Safety Checklist to Prevent Falls.
- Talk to your family members. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. It takes all of us to help keep older adults safe.
For more information on falls prevention or to learn about falls prevention programs in your area, please contact your healthcare provider or local Aging & Disability Resource Center.
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