Falls and Older Adults: 5 Myths Busted

Contact

Vanessa Sink

Public Affairs Manager

571-527-4020

press@ncoa.org

NCOA offers tips to stay safe on National Falls Prevention Awareness Day

Washington, D.C. – Many people think falls are a normal part of aging. The truth is they are not – most falls can be prevented by learning a few steps to stay safe.

Each year, on the first day of fall, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) Falls Free® Initiative celebrates National Falls Prevention Awareness Day by encouraging older adults and their communities to get educated on how to prevent falls.

“This year, the Falls Free® Initiative, 48 states, and many more local communities are banding together to take this important message to the people who need to hear it,” said James Firman, NCOA President and CEO. “Serious falls are not an inevitable part of growing older. With education, an action plan, and a support system, we all can be healthy and safe as we age.”

Falls are a major public health concern for the growing aging population. Every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall; every 13 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency room for a fall-related injury. Falls are costly and can cause older adults to lose their independence.

Here are five common myths about falls, busted by reality:

Myth 1:

Falling is something normal that happens as you get older.

Reality:

Falls are not a normal part of aging. Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults, including:

  • Engaging in a physical activity program with balance, strength training, and flexibility components
  • Consulting with a health professional about a falls risk assessment
  • Reviewing medications periodically
  • Getting vision and hearing checks annually
  • Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive

Myth 2:

Falling happens to other people, not to me.

Reality:

Many people think, “It won’t happen to me.” But the truth is that one in three older adults—about 12 million—falls every year in the U.S.

Myth 3:

Muscle strength and flexibility can’t be regained.

Reality:

While we do lose muscle as we age, exercise can partially restore strength and flexibility. It’s never too late to start a graduated exercise program that includes balance training.

Myth 4:

Taking medication doesn’t increase my risk of falling.

Reality:

Medication may increase a risk of falling by sometimes making a person dizzy or sleepy. Talk to a health care provider about potential side effects or the interactions of medications.

Myth 5:

I don’t need to talk to family members or my health care provider if I’m concerned about my risk of falling.

Reality:

Falls prevention is a team effort. Talk with a doctor, family, and anyone else in a position to help. Let them know about your concerns and together take steps to reduce risk including removing hazards in the home, finding a fall prevention program in the community, or setting up a vision exam. Learn about six steps to take to reduce falls here.

Senior centers and other community-based organizations across the country host proven programs that help older adults gain strength, improve balance, and build confidence to help them prevent falls and preserve their independence.

Contact a local senior center or community center today to find out how older adults can stay “Strong Today, Falls Free® Tomorrow.”

To learn more, visit www.ncoa.org/FallsPrevention.

About NCOA

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a respected national leader and trusted partner to help people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging. Our mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. Through innovative community programs and services, online help, and advocacy, NCOA is partnering with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020. Learn more at ncoa.org and @NCOAging.