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Falls: inevitable or preventable?

On average, more than one million Californians over age 65 fall each year. Does this mean that as we age falls are inevitable? No! We can be active participants in fall prevention by addressing risk factors that may cause a fall. Read on to see why fall prevention is important and what steps to take to help prevent falling.
Across the country, and in Sonoma County, falls are the leading cause of fractures, hospital admissions, and deaths among older adults. A serious fall may have a significant effect on a senior’s health and independence. The substantial impact that falls have on our wellbeing has motivated research on how to prevent falls.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a key factor in preventing falls is participating in exercises that focus on balance, strength, and endurance. Couple that with making the home environment safer by eliminating tripping hazards and adding grab bars, and you are well on your way to reducing your fall risk. Older adults are also encouraged to have their vision tested and to discuss medications that may affect balance with their medical professionals.

Where do you start? Many of Sonoma County’s senior centers and health clubs offer exercise programs that focus on fall prevention. The CDC offers a valuable home safety checklist online that will help in fall-proofing a home.

Sonoma County’s Area Agency on Aging offers a fall prevention program that has proven effective in curtailing falls. The program, A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns about Falling, is for those who are concerned about falls; interested in improving balance, flexibility and strength; who have fallen in the past; or who may have restricted activities because of falling concerns.

Trained volunteer coaches lead 8-12 participants through group discussions where participants learn to view falls as controllable, set goals for increasing activity, make changes to reduce fall risks at home, and exercise to increase strength and balance. The program is offered at various locations throughout Sonoma County.

For more information on A Matter of Balance, please contact Program Coordinator Beverly Winsor at bwinsor@schsd.org or 707-565-5936.

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