The start of Fall this week brings the annual observance of National Fall Prevention Day.

Press Release from the Missouri News Service

The start of Fall with the autumnal equinox this week brings the annual observance of National Fall Prevention Day. Falls have now replaced car crashes, shootings and stabbings as the number-one cause of traumatic injury, especially for those over age 65. That’s according to Paula Segebarth, R.N., an injury prevention nurse, who says the observance is aimed at reducing falls that affect a third of Missourians over age 65 and result in $27 billion in medical costs each year.

She says women tend to fall more often, but that men are more often killed by falls because they take more risks.

“They are on the roof, trimming trees, putting up lights, cleaning the gutters. And women tend to have osteoporosis. So often times, when they fall, they fall from breaking a bone and then they fall.”

Segebarth says the best fall prevention strategies include modifying your home to make it safer, keeping physically active and managing your medications. She says you need to be aware that some heart and blood pressure medications can make you dizzy if you stand up too quickly.

She says that, ironically, people who fall and don’t get hurt still end up with a higher risk for falling again. Because of fear, they limit activities and exercise.

“And so, in becoming more sedentary, they are decreasing their center of balance, they’re decreasing their muscle mass. And in doing so, then they’re actually putting themselves at a higher risk for falling because once they do get up, they’re not as steady.”

Segebarth says there are many ways to make your home safer and prevent falls at little or no cost.

“Such as pulling up throw rugs; that’s one of the biggest things. Also in the kitchen, putting items that are on maybe the highest shelf, if you use them frequently, put them to a lower shelf so you don’t have to use a step stool.”

She says walkways should be kept clear of cords and clutter, and well lighted at night.