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Taking steps to reduce your risk of a fall

Taking steps to reduce your risk of a fall Taking steps to reduce your risk of a fall

September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month. Did you know that Wisconsin has the highest death rate due to falls for older adults of any state in the country?

• 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 fall every year.

• In Wisconsin, 40% 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 top cause of injury-related emergency department visits and hospitalizations for adults age 55+ in the area covered by North Central Wisconsin’s Regional Trauma Advisory Council. For adults ages 65+ in North Central Wisconsin, falls are also the top cause of injury-related death.

Knowing these startling statistics, Aspirus Medford Hospital is proud to announce their achievement of 300 days without a fall on Saturday, August 29.

There is another side to falls that older adults and their loved ones need to know. “Falls are preventable and not a normal part of aging,” said Nicole Kollmansberger registered nurse and director of quality improvement at Aspirus Medford Hospital. “Falls are considered a trauma due to the potential cases of permanent injury. In some cases, uncontrolled bleeding and head injuries can contribute to permanent harm or loss of independence.”

Approximately 30-40% of emergency room visits are associated with a fall. That’s why Aspirus Medford Hospital and 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: 1. Talk to your health care provider. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling and share your history of recent falls.

2. Engage in balance and strength exercises that are proven to reduce falls. Talk to your healthcare provider or physical therapist for recommendations.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Keep your home safe. Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe and install grab bars in key areas.

6. 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.

“Maintaining strength and balance is a key component to reducing one’s fall risk,” said Kollmansberger. “Aspirus Therapy & Fitness in Medford offers programming that focuses on strength and balance in the aging population.”

For more information on falls prevention or to learn about falls prevention programs in your area, please contact Aspirus Medford Therapy & Fitness at 715-748-8112 or your local Aging & Disability Resource Center.