September 21, 2012
Concord, NH – New Hampshire joins 45 other states and the national Falls Free™ Coalition in declaring a statewide Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, September 22, 2012. This year’s theme, Standing Together to Prevent Falls, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population.
“Every 15 seconds, an older adult in New Hampshire is seen in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury,” said NH Public Health Director Dr. José Montero, “and we know the chance of falling and being seriously injured in a fall increases as a person gets older. This day of awareness brings attention to a growing public health issue among older adults, but more importantly, the growing availability of proven falls prevention programs and interventions.”
Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for New Hampshire residents 65 and older. Approximately 105 older Granite Staters die every year because of a fall and the rate has risen, particularly for females, over the past 10 years. Fortunately, the rates for hospitalizations and emergency department visits have not changed significantly over the last decade for males and females together.
Through the New Hampshire Falls Risk Reduction Task Force, the State has been implementing falls reduction initiatives for over a decade. “One of the ways that older adults can help to reduce their chance of falling is by incorporating physical activity with balance, strength training, and flexibility components,” said Diane Langley, Acting Director of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services (BEAS). “Two evidence-based reduction physical activity programs that are specifically geared towards falls risk reduction in the older adult are Matter of Balance and Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance that are taking place in senior centers and other community based organizations across the state.”
New Hampshire seniors are invited to see the Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance during a demonstration this afternoon on the State House Lawn from 12:30 to 1:00 p.m. Local instructors will lead participants in a series of movements designed to help reduce the risk of falling.
Four ways everyone can help to prevent falls include:
1. Increase your physical activity. Simple exercise, like walking or swimming at least 15 minutes a day can help build muscle strength and improve balance, which can prevent falls. Exercise programs such as Tai Chi that increase strength and improve balance are especially good.
2. See your eye doctor once a year. Age-related eye diseases, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy, can increase the risk of falling. Early detection is key to minimizing the effects of these conditions.
3. Review your medications. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the medicines you are taking and ask whether they may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Discuss things you can do to ensure you are taking your medicines safely.
4. Remove environmental hazards. Look around the house for anything that could increase the risk of falls, including poor lighting, loose rugs, slippery floors, and unsteady furniture. Remove or modify these hazards.
Fore more information about the Falls Free™ Coalition or Falls Prevention Awareness Day visit www.ncoa.org/improve-health/center-for-healthy-aging/falls-prevention/. To learn more about fall prevention visit www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/index.html. To learn about the Division of Public Health Services, Injury Prevention Program visit www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/bchs/mch/injury.htm.