The Coshocton County Beacon September 24, 2020 - Page 18

18 • The Beacon September 24 , 2020

Follow these tips to help prevent falls and stay safe

I ’ ve noticed pumpkins , corn stalks and mums popping up on front porches this past week . And even if the leaves on our trees aren ’ t letting on , the calendar is telling us a change of season is upon us . Because yesterday was the first day of fall , it was celebrated as National Falls Prevention Day . But no worries if you missed it ; the entire month of September is National Falls Prevention Month .
Did you know every 11 seconds an older adult in the United States is

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Emily Marrison
Columnist
treated in the emergency room for a fall ? According to the Ohio Department of Health , more than 30 % of people age 65 and older fall each year . And according to the National Council on Aging , though many falls do not result in physical injury , they can cause fear of falling , leading to physical decline , depression and social isolation . There is much we can do to help our parents , grandparents , friends and neighbors to improve their quality of life .
Many people think falls are a normal part of aging . There are many seniors who believe there
is not much they can do to prevent a fall . The truth is most falls can be prevented . This takes planning , thinking ahead , and generally being more aware and in the moment .
Part of prevention is understanding the changes that occur as we age . Our balance and gait begin to change . This is primarily through inactivity that leads to loss of coordination , flexibility and balance . Our vision diminishes , making obstacles harder to see . Some prescription medications can cause dizziness or dehydration that can lead to a fall . Chronic conditions also can result in inactivity , depression or pain . This list can sound overwhelming , but it should be empowering . Recognizing and acknowledging these changes helps

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us to take charge of our lives at each stage and make the very best of it .
According to the Ohio Department of Aging , many older adults are reluctant to talk about falling because they see it as a threat to their independence . For those of us with older adults in our lives , we need to step up — literally and figuratively . Stepping up does not mean squelching all activities of our parents and grandparents by turning them into couch potatoes to keep them “ safe .” Encourage them to stay active and be assertive about their needs . If they ask for specific tasks to be completed around the house , don ’ t ignore the request . Help or find someone who can help .
There are some things you should be looking for . Notice if they are holding onto walls , furniture or someone else when walking or if they appear to have difficulty walking or arising from a chair . These are all signs it might be time to see a physical therapist who can help your older loved one improve their balance , strength and gait through exercise or suggest an assistive device .
The National Council on Aging also suggests you do a walk-through safety assessment of their home . There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer . For example , increase lighting throughout the house , especially at the top and bottom of stairs . Make sure there are two secure rails on all stairs . Install grab bars in the tub / shower and near the toilet .

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We will continue to post tips and information about falls prevention on our Facebook page , OSU Extension Coshocton County , throughout September . These posts even include some simple exercises and stretches to improve balance and flexibility . Be sure to check these out and share them with friends and family . You also can find video recordings of Chi Class on the Coshocton Public Library System Facebook page . And remember we have a wonderful senior center in our community with very helpful staff members who can answer questions about falls prevention .
Emily Marrison is an OSU Extension family and consumer sciences educator and may be called at 740-622-2265 .
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