September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month

Wisconsin has the highest death rate due to falls for older adults of any state in the country. Here are some more startling statistics:

  • Every 11 seconds an older adult somewhere in the U.S. is admitted to an Emergency Department for a fall. Every 19 minutes an older adult dies from injuries from a fall.
  • In Wisconsin and the nation, one of every four adults falls every year.
  • One of every five falls results in an injury such as a broken bone or head trauma.
  • In Wisconsin, 40% of people who enter nursing homes had a fall in the 30 days prior to admission.
  • Falls cost Wisconsin over $1 billion each year.

There is good news though: falls are not a normal part of aging and can be prevented.  Governor Evers recently proclaimed September Falls Prevention Awareness Month in Wisconsin and the CDC, the National Council on Aging, and the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging encourage you to take control of your health by following these six steps to prevent a fall:

  1. Engage in balance and strength exercises that are proven to reduce falls.
    Talk to a physical therapist for recommendations or check out our Stepping On program.
  2. Talk to your health care provider.
    Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. And share your history of recent falls.
  3. Regularly review your medications with your pharmacist and your doctor.
    Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling and take medications only as prescribed.
  4. Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses.
    People with untreated vision or hearing losses are more than three times as likely to fall.
  5. Keep your home safe.
    Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe and install grab bars in key areas.
  6. Talk to your family members.
    Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe.  It takes all of us to help keep older adults safe.

While the pandemic has temporarily kept us from gathering in person, we’re very lucky in Wisconsin to have a proven falls prevention workshop available in almost all Wisconsin counties and tribes that address ALL of these factors. It’s called Stepping On and has been proven to reduce older adult falls by over 30%. This 7-week workshop meets once a week for two hours each week. Participants learn balance and strength exercises and hear from four guest experts – a physical therapist, pharmacist, vision expert and community mobility specialist – to learn strategies that can help them avoid a fall. 

Learn more about Preventing Falls on our initiative page or Find a Workshop near you!