September is Falls Prevention Month, a time to increase awareness around fall and injury prevention. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury, but many falls are preventable. The Aspire Health team wants to make sure that Monterey County stays safe. With the help of our Population Health division, the National Council on Aging and Montage Health, we put together these six steps to prevent a fall.
- Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re worried you or a loved one may be at risk of falls. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of recent falls.
- Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. You may have a higher risk of falling if you take certain medications that cause dizziness or have certain medical conditions or reduced strength or sensation that affect your balance or mobility. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of the medications you take. If they could affect your balance or coordination, ask how to reduce your risk of falling.
- Start a balance and exercise program. Stay active. Regular exercise improves your strength, muscle tone, and balance. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist for specific exercises to improve balance, strength, and gait (walking pattern). Aspire Health Medicare Advantage plan members have a fitness benefit with access to local gyms, including the Montage Wellness Centers. Contact Member Services to learn more.
- Keep your home safe. Remove tripping hazards such as rugs, mats and floor runners. Install night lights in halls and bathroom while keeping halls, stairs, and other areas well-lit, and make sure lamps and light switches are within close reach. Make stairs safe by keeping them free of clutter and making sure handrails are securely fastened. Install grab bars in key areas such as bathtubs and showers.
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your glasses. Even having ear wax removed can improve your balance. Medicare Advantage plans offer vision and hearing benefits not offered by Original Medicare. Some plans offer this as an enhanced benefit and others include it in their core product. Contact your plan directly to learn more.
- Talk to your family members. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just an older adult’s issue.
What if you fall?
If you fall and have an injury, call 911. Wait for help to arrive instead of trying to get up by yourself. Remember to let your doctor know anytime you fall.
What if I’m a caregiver?
If you’re a caregiver, learn how to help someone up from the floor. If you see someone fall or you’re the caregiver of someone who fell, help them up only if they’re uninjured and you aren’t risking injury to yourself. If you can’t help them up or if they’re hurt, call 911. Comfort the person who fell, place pillows around them, and keep them warm with a blanket until help arrives.
Preventing trips and falls is an important step in protecting your health and independence. We hope that you keep these fall prevention tips in mind this month and all year-round. If you have any questions about how you can prevent falls, contact Aspire Health’s Population Health division at (831) 644-7490.