Johnston Health shares tips for preventing falls
September 17, 2012
Many aging residents in the area will get colorful reminders this week to stay safe. It's National Falls Prevention Week (Sept. 17-22), and Johnston Health is raising awareness by distributing fliers, fact sheets and paper placemats.
The National Council on Aging says that falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injures in people older than 65. Every 15 seconds in the U.S., an older adult is seen in the emergency department for a fall-related injury, the agency says.
"It's a serious and growing problem," says Caroline Hester, an administrative director who oversees patient care services, including Johnston Home Care and Hospice. "A fall can cause serious injuries, including cuts, brain injuries and broken hips."
Hester says the staff at Johnston Medical Center-Smithfield places a high priority on preventing falls. "We assess the patient's risk as soon as he or she is admitted. High-risk patients are identified with a yellow star on the door, and they wear yellow non-skid slippers," she says. "The yellow star triggers all staff to be alert and take extra precautions to prevent falls."
HealthQuest wellness center is putting an emphasis, too, on preventing falls. During the week, the center will offer to anyone a free one-day pass to the Tai Chi or Joint Action water aerobic classes, both of which gently strengthen muscles and improve balance and range of motion. The staff will also hand out info to patients this week enrolling in the cardiopulmonary rehabilitation program.
What can you do to prevent falls? The National Council on Aging offers the following tips:
- Exercise regularly, with an emphasis on strength and balance;
- Ask your doctor to review your medication for anything that might cause dizziness, and safely discard any expired medications;
- Have your eyes checked at least once a year to maximize your vision;
- Get an assessment of your home environment and make necessary changes to reduce the risk of falling;
- Tell your doctor if you have any of the following risk factors for falls; a previous fall in the past six months, difficulty walking or getting out of bed, difficulty maintaining balance, feeling weak or dizzy, or have cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's.
Hester says the placemats will go on patients' food trays at the hospital and at the Hospice House. They will also be distributed to local senior centers and to residents receiving home-delivered meals. Fact sheets and fliers will be available in outpatient service areas.
"Falls happen more often than you might think," she adds. "Statistics show that one in every three people older than 65 will fall this year. We're hopeful that we can help reduce that number by raising awareness."