Delaware dedicates week for Falls Prevention Awareness

By Tim Mastro
Posted 9/14/22

DOVER — Gov. John Carney and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long have proclaimed Sept. 18-24 as Falls Prevention Awareness Week, keeping with the nationally recognized week.

The Delaware Coalition …

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Delaware dedicates week for Falls Prevention Awareness

Posted

DOVER — Gov. John Carney and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long have proclaimed Sept. 18-24 as Falls Prevention Awareness Week, keeping with the nationally recognized week.

The Delaware Coalition for Injury Prevention’s Falls Prevention Team, of the Division of Public Health’s Office of Emergency Medical Services section, said it takes community effort to prevent falls. Falls can result in broken bones, head injuries and temporary or permanent disabilities.

Falls occur among persons of all ages, though in the United States, young children and seniors are most at risk for suffering fall-related traumatic brain injuries, according to the coalition. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to major life changes for the individual and their families. 

In the U.S., falls are the leading cause of trauma-related hospitalizations among adults aged 65 and older, with one in four in that age group falling every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to the Delaware Trauma Registry, 3,229 individuals were injured from falls and seen at a Delaware trauma center in 2021. Of that total, 1,833 were over the age of 64 and survived the fall while 38 people in that age group died.

“Preventing falls is important not only to keep individuals of all ages safe, but also to reduce the strain on the emergency services and health care system,” said Steve Blessing, chief of the Office of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness. “Falls create a ripple effect in the person’s life, the life of their families who may need to arrange for a higher level of care for them, and the EMS and medical system as a whole.”

The Falls Prevention Team asks communities, businesses, schools, organizations and households to follow this safety advice to prevent falls:

  • Adults, especially seniors and individuals using wheelchairs and walkers, can get regular vision and hearing checkups and visit their health care provider to review medications, balance and coordination, muscle strength, and physical activity level. Adults should eat nutritious foods and beverages, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and get appropriate sleep.
  • Wear shoes in good condition without worn soles and heels. Shoes should fit well and not fall off the feet. Individuals at risk of falls should wear shoes and slippers that fit around their feet with no open backs.
  • Ensure proper fit of canes and walkers.
  • Do not let pets get underfoot. Teach them basic commands like “sit” and “stay.”
  • Use motion-activated lights to keep walkways and parking areas well lit. Use motion-activated night lights inside.
  • Keep homes, yards, and public areas free of clutter.
  • Maintain walkways to ensure a smooth surface without crumbling or splintered surfaces. Prevent slippery conditions by removing snow, ice, rain, wet moss, leaves, oil, and other substances that can cause individuals to fall.
  • Ensure that there are curb cuts or other detectable warning surfaces that meet state/local safety codes and the guidelines provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Curb cuts, tactile surface pavers, slopes, contrasting colors, and other universal design elements benefit everyone, especially individuals with disabilities who use walkers and wheelchairs, those pushing strollers, and those who cannot see well or easily lift their feet up onto the curb.
  • Install handrails, ramps, and automatic doors and keep them free of hazards.
  • Use entrance mats with flat and secured edges that do not curl up. Absorbent floor mats catch rain and snow at entrances and spilled drinks at food establishments.

As part of Falls Prevention Week, Dover’s Modern Maturity Center is hosting a free showing of the movie “Denying Gravity” on Tuesday at 11 a.m. The movie highlights in a relatable, good-humored approach the positive effects of fall prevention activities for seniors. A small health fair with information on preventing falls precedes the movie.

To improve coordination and balance, older Delawareans can enroll in A Matter of Balance classes that are held in communities throughout the state. For a schedule of A Matter of Balance classes, call Volunteer Delaware 50+ at 302-515-3020.

ChristianaCare offers BingoCize, an evidence-based fall prevention program integrating Bingo and exercise, as well as the ThinkFirst to Prevent Falls program, which can be done either virtually or in person. The ThinkFirst program addresses home modifications, medications, balance, healthy eating, and other strategies to prevent falls. To schedule these programs and obtain more information, send an email to injuryprevention@christianacare.org.

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