For Immediate Release: September 12, 2022
Brian Guy │ Department of Disabilities Aging & Independent Living
Ben Truman │ Vermont Department of Health
802-316-2117 / 802-863-7281
Falls Prevention Key to Healthy Aging
Injuries can limit mobility and lead to additional health problems
BURLINGTON, VT – Falling is not a normal part of aging, yet 31% of Vermonters ages 45 and older report experiencing a fall that results in injury. A serious injury ─ especially when you are older ─ can limit a person’s mobility and independence and increase social isolation, which can lead to additional health problems.
In 2020, 171 Vermont residents ages 65 and older had a fall-related death. To help reduce the risk of falls, state health officials and Falls Free Vermont, a statewide resource for fall prevention information and training, are urging Vermonters to know the simple steps that will help avoid falls and injuries.
Many things can lead to a fall. The physical impacts of chronic health conditions, like diabetes, heart disease, visual impairment and musculoskeletal concerns like arthritis, and thyroid, nerve and foot problems, as well as confusion and cognitive impairment, all can affect balance. Some medicines can also cause people to feel dizzy or sleepy. Other causes include safety hazards in the home, such as throw rugs, pets that can get underfoot and poor lighting.
“Vermont is a wonderful state in which to age, and it is vital that all Vermonters view falls prevention as a positive part of healthy aging,” said Monica White, Commissioner of the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. “Being aware of how to prevent falls is important, especially for older Vermonters and their loved ones, and this awareness should also extend throughout the community as we all work together to make Vermont the best state in which to age.”
Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD agrees. “A history of falls or fear of falling may lead older people to avoid activities that they enjoy and which foster better health, such as walking, shopping, and participating in social activities,” said Dr. Levine. “Falls prevention starts in the home, and extends to a commitment to building healthy communities that include an infrastructure like safe sidewalks and places to sit and rest, efforts that protect and promote the health of Vermonters.”
There are simple things we can do to prevent falls:
- Stay physically active. Regular exercise improves muscles and makes you stronger.
- Have your eyes and hearing tested. Even small changes in sight and hearing may cause you to fall.
- Know the side effects of any medicine you take.
- Get enough sleep. If you are sleepy, you are more likely to fall.
- Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Even a small amount of alcohol can affect your balance and reflexes.
- Stand up slowly. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop. That can make you feel wobbly.
- Always tell your doctor if you have fallen since your last checkup, even if you aren't hurt when you fall. Knowing about a fall can help your doctor provide you with the best care, alert them to check your medications, and make sure your vision is OK.
According to the National Council on Aging, Center for Healthy Aging Falls, over 67% of participants in falls prevention programs indicated having multiple chronic conditions, which can contribute to fall risks. Health promotion programs offer solutions to managing chronic conditions and fall risk by encouraging physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, and a regular sleep schedule. To find out about local programs, Vermonters can contact their local health office or call their local Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-642-5119.
For more information and resources about Falls Prevention and Healthy Aging:
- Falls Free Vermont: fallsfreevt.com
- Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living: asd.vermont.gov
- Vermont Department of Health
- Falls Prevention: healthvermont.gov/emergency-preparedness-ems/injury-prevention/prevent-falls
- Find your Local Health Office: healthvermont.gov/local
- Learn more about Healthy Communities: healthvermont.gov/wellness/physical-activity-nutrition/community
- National Council on Aging: ncoa.org/older-adults/health/prevention/falls-prevention
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