September is designated as National Fall Prevention Awareness Month, a time when many agencies serving older Americans acknowledge this with special events and educational programs throughout the nation. In our state, the Alaska Commission on Aging and the Division of Senior and Disabilities Services have joined with private agencies and individuals to make fall prevention information readily available to the public.
Governor Sean Parnell recognized the importance of falls prevention by proclaiming the week of Sept. 16-22, as “Senior Fall Prevention Week” in Alaska. The proclamation acknowledges that accidental — and usually preventable — falls are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries for Alaskans 65 and older, and are the leading cause of fatal injury for those older than 75.
To prevent falls, seniors are urged to begin a program of regular exercise, to discuss their medications (including over-the-counter drugs and alcohol use) with their health care provider, to have their sight and hearing checked, and to review their homes for hazards such as loose rugs, clutter on the floor, puddles of liquid, steps in ill repair, dark hallways or stairwells and loose electrical cords.
In Juneau, on Sept. 22, senior citizens, their friends and families are invited to stop by the Nugget Mall from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to learn practical ways to prevent slips, trips and falls, before they happen. The event will include video clips, a talk with a physical therapist, a Tai Chi demonstration, as well as information on medications, assistive equipment, home safety and a program called A Matter of Balance that has been shown to prevent falls and increase confidence. Persons age 60 and older will be eligible for a special drawing.
Also, to celebrate and educate Alaskans about the importance of preventing falls, Southeast Senior Services is kicking off this year’s family caregiver training series with “Practical Tips to Prevent Falls;” on Sept. 26 at noon, in KTOO’s first floor conference room, health educator Nancy Jamieson of Alaska Senior and Disabilities Services will discuss why fall prevention is so important and those things seniors and caregivers can do to improve their chances of not falling. The training is free and open to all unpaid family caregivers and senior citizens.
For those outside of Juneau, the region-wide Senior Information and Caregiver Resource Center has information on falls prevention, including a library of pamphlets, books and videos available to all caregivers and seniors. Call the Resource Center at 463-6177 or 1-866-746-6177 to learn more.