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Falls Are Not a Normal Part of Aging

From the Desk of Dr. Antonucci

Sept. 13, 2023

Fall Prevention Awareness Week Events and Information

Fall Prevention Awareness Week, which coincides each year with the first day of fall, is a national health campaign aimed at raising awareness of falls and injury prevention. Many people think falling is a normal part of aging, but it is not, and most falls can be prevented.

“Our Lee Health Trauma Center injury prevention team is joining forces with Step Smart and several other community partners to host informative and empowering events for Fall Prevention Awareness Week,” explains Syndi Bultman, RN, MS, CEN, Lee Health Trauma Center injury prevention resource coordinator. “We want to help people reduce their risk of falls and improve safety in their everyday life with important information and free screenings.”

The Fall Prevention Awareness Week events are set for:

  • Monday, Sept. 18, noon-3 p.m., Baker Senior Center, Naples; call 239-325-4444 to RSVP or for more information.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 19, 10 a.m.-noon, Harold Avenue Regional Park Rec Center, Port Charlotte; call 941-624-7200 x 7326 to RSVP or for more information.
  • Friday, Sept. 22, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Shell Point, Fort Myers; call 239-454-2272 to RSVP or for more information.

In addition to inviting our neighbors throughout Southwest Florida to attend these events, Syndi and our Lee Health Trauma Center injury prevention team offer these tips to help create a safe environment and reduce the risk of falls:

  • Remove clutter, especially in and around doorways and steps/stairs.
  • Remove unnecessary throw rugs, and make sure any throw rugs you do have are non-slip.
  • Have a qualified contractor install grab bars/handrails in bathrooms or near any steps.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing that may cause you to trip, and don’t wear shoes when inside the home.
  • Wear non-slip shoes with a back (avoiding sandals or slippers).
  • Ensure there is plenty of adequate lighting. Install brighter bulbs or night lights where needed.
  • If you have been advised to use an assistive device, use it! And make sure to have the device fitted for you specifically by a professional.
  • Always take extra precautions around pets and small children—move cautiously and take your time.

“Significant risk factors for falls are deconditioning and other medical conditions (like cardiovascular conditions, digestive difficulties, pulmonary disorders or disease, depression or disorientation), which can cause weakness,” Syndi says. “The effects of muscle deconditioning, excess weight and overall health can frequently be reversed or improved. If you or a loved one has a history of falling or are at high risk, speak with your doctor or healthcare clinician and consider starting an age-appropriate exercise program to improve strength and balance.”

Falls are a serious threat to the safety and independence of older adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that falling once doubles your chances of falling again, and each year, 3 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. I encourage you to attend one of the Fall Prevention Awareness Week events, heed the tips from our Trauma Center team and talk to your doctor or healthcare clinician to know your risk for falls and how to prevent them.