by Kevin K. Johnson, Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)
In practically every field, every market, every facet of life, we use classifications as a tool for comparing, contrasting, and overall differentiation. This classification process also applies to gerontology or aging. We tend to ‘classify’ seniors in three categories:
- Young-Old Ages 65 to 74
- Old-Old Ages 75 to 84
- Oldest-Old Ages 85 and older
There are broad characteristics of each of these age related demographics. As seniors age, their susceptibility to falls increase, and generally speaking, the severity of the outcome increases considerably. Fractures, particularly broken hips, can quickly lead to significantly diminished independence. Very often a fall can lead to a significantly shortened remaining life. That said, I never tire of talking about the serious nature of falls for seniors. Our oldest-old are the most susceptible but so much depends on the general health of the individual.
Ohio is home to more than 2.3 million seniors who want and deserve the chance to continue to grow, thrive and contribute to their communities,” said Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D, director of the Ohio Department of Aging. “Falls and fall-related injuries pose a threat to independence and vitality, and while the risk of falls increases with age, falls are not a normal part of aging, and most can be prevented.”
Decreased muscle mass, vision and hearing decline, medical conditions and joint pain are some of the age-related changes that can increase falls risks. However, minor changes to the three H’s – home, health and habits – can offset these risk factors:
• Home: Remove throw rugs; improve lighting, especially near stairs; install grab bars in the bathroom; rearrange the home to make frequently used items easier to reach.
• Health: Ask your doctor about a falls risk assessment and talk about medicines you take and whether they increase your risk for falls; have your hearing and vision checked annually.
• Habits: Stay active to build muscle strength and improve balance; slow down and think through tasks; stay hydrated and eat a well-balanced diet that includes calcium-rich foods.
Most of all, learn to not be afraid of falling. A fear of falling can cause you to make decisions and changes in your behavior that actually increase your risk.
STEADY U Ohio is the state’s comprehensive falls prevention initiative led by the Ohio Department of Aging and supported by Ohio government and state business partners. STEADY U partners are working to strengthen existing falls prevention activities, identify new opportunities and raise awareness of falls prevention strategies and resources. Visit www.steadyu.ohio.gov to take a falls risk self-assessment, find easy steps to prevent falls, and learn about A Matter of Balance, a free, community-based education program to help participants see falls as something they can control. “A Matter of Balance” classes are offered at Fairhill Partners, the non-profit organization where I serve as Board Chair. I recently referred a colleague’s mother to this program and I know that she will learn a great deal that will result in maintaining her independence for as long as possible. By taking steps to stay safe today, you can ensure that you remain healthy and independent tomorrow.
source: Ohio Department of Aging