As the leaves turn and you think of Fall, you may not think of falling, but perhaps you should. Here in the NEK, it’s at this time of year we start to have a growing concern for falls with the slipperiest of seasons ahead. Statistics from the Vermont Department of Health (heathvermont.gov) show that falls are a common occurrence among Vermonters, leading to numerous injuries and a leading cause of emergency room visits. Anyone can fall, therefore fall-related injuries can happen to anyone, regardless of age or physical condition, making Fall Prevention Month (September) an essential initiative to raise awareness and promote safety measures.
In Vermont, falls are a prevalent cause of injuries (1 in 5 falls result in a broken bone or head injury) and hospitalizations in all age groups. According to the Vermont Department of Health (VDH), falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among individuals aged 65 and older. These statistics highlight the importance of addressing fall prevention to reduce the burden on healthcare resources and improve public health outcomes; not to mention, keep you safe! No one wants to spend their time waiting in the ER for a cast or a CT scan from falling, or worse, losing a loved one.
Falls happen! We see them all over TV and in the movies and we laugh, but not so much when it happens to us! Falling can happen to anyone due to various factors, from uneven surfaces to slippery floors, even inadequate lighting increases the risk of falls. Falls can happen from human error such as wearing inappropriate footwear, pants that are too long, situations with caring for others and pets, looking at cellphones, and other things that we can control. However, there are certain medical conditions, medications, and age-related changes in balance and mobility that can contribute to an increased susceptibility to falling. It is crucial to recognize that falls can occur at any age, and we should take proactive measures to prevent them.
Fall Prevention Week plays a vital role in promoting awareness and education about fall prevention strategies. This annual event aims to engage communities, healthcare professionals, and individuals in activities that emphasize fall prevention measures. The week typically includes educational programs, workshops, screenings, and initiatives that focus on identifying potential hazards and implementing preventive actions. So, that’s just what we are doing! The Wellness Center, North Country Hospital Rehabilitation Services, and The Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging have collaborated to provide resources and information on fall prevention, in addition to testing your own balance at our very own Fall Prevention Workshop, Thursday, September 28th, 2:00 pm at The Wellness Center (1734 Crawford Farm Road in Newport). There will be tips on home safety modifications, exercise programs to improve balance and strength, how to have conversations about medications and potential side effects that may increase fall risk, and education on proper footwear choices. Then, you’ll have a chance to see how your balance is doing that day with our very own team and one-on-one assessments. By raising awareness about fall prevention strategies, checking in on your own personal balance, and self-awareness, individuals can take proactive steps to reduce their risk of falling.
As you learn about fall prevention and think, “Oh wow, that’s me,” or “I should do that.” Do it! Don’t wait until a fall to move those throw rugs or to replace your old shoes. Don’t wait until you’ve had an emergency to try to figure out if you can get up from the floor or how you would call for help. Prevention is about being proactive! Prevention is an investment in your health and independence! It’s a chance to not have to say, “Gee, I wish I had…”
We hope you’ll consider joining us at The Wellness Center for the free fall prevention class on Thursday, September 28th at 2 pm. This class will provide valuable information on identifying fall hazards, implementing preventive measures, improving balance, and maybe even winning a prize or two. All community members are invited to attend and learn practical strategies to prevent falls and promote overall well-being. There is no RSVP needed, and no solicitations will be taking place. Come as you! We hope to see you there. Until then, stay safe and stay steady!
Director Of The Wellness Center