Falling is not a normal part of aging. Although preventable, one in three adults over the age of 65 falls every year, and falling is the leading cause of death by injury in older persons.
Falls Prevention Awareness Day is an annual event that occurs on Sept. 22 (the first day of fall) to raise awareness about preventing fall-related injuries by spreading public health and safety messages to older people, their families and to health-care providers.
This year, the Southern Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition is celebrating Falls Prevention Awareness Day by offering free events in Tucson, Oro Valley and Green Valley to educate the community on ways to prevent slips, falls and spills. The coalition was established in 2015, and is comprised of educators, first-responders, health care providers and other representatives from various organizations. This year’s local theme is Falls Free Pima: Health. Safety. Independence. These are three goals that you have the power to achieve:
Health. Physical activity and nutrition are important components of a person’s wellbeing. Financial health, though often less considered, is also an important component and can be affected by a fall-related injury. These injuries are among the 20 most expensive medical conditions; the average hospital cost for a fall-related injury is over $30,000. Play an active role in your well-being and preventing falls to ensure good physical, mental and financial health for many years.
Safety. Many local organizations not only offer tools for residents to self-conduct home safety inspections to prevent falls, but also offer other resources such as smoke detector checks for fire prevention, tools for starting a neighborhood watch, and support for caregivers. Make sure your physical environment provides an ideal setting to support and maintain health and safety.
Independence. The fear of falling can be a serious and debilitating stressor. Learning to cope with these feelings can help improve your confidence, social life and well-being. Useful tips for working through anxiety and fear include talking to your healthcare provider, engaging in stretching and breathing exercises and joining a community group of your interest. Safeguard your independence and make it a goal to lead a life with positivity.
The Southern Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition is working hard to support people to be healthier, safer and independent. To find more information on upcoming events for Falls Prevention Awareness Day or for fall prevention resources, go to healthypima.org, or call the Pima Council on Aging Help Line at 790-7262.
Marcy Flanagan is the Pima County Health Department Director.