Seniors can take steps to reduce risk of falls

Missouri is joining a national effort to showcase the steps that can be taken to reduce the toll that falls take on older citizens.

Falls are the leading cause of fatal in-juries for Americans 65 and older.

More than 18,000 older Americans die every year because of falls and the rate has risen dramatically over the last 10 years.

“Many older adults never fully recover from falls, which can lead to a loss of independence, reduced mobility and earlier ad-mission to a nursing home,” Margaret Donnelly, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, stated in a news release. “We need to do more to in-form families, caregivers and the elderly on how to prevent falls.”

Older adults can take five simple actions to protect their independence and reduce their risk of falling, according to the re-lease.

Older adults can:

• Exercise regularly. Exercise programs that increase strength and improve balance are especially good.

• Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines — both prescription and over-the-counter — to reduce side effects and interactions that could cause dizziness or an unsteady gait.

• Have their eyes checked at least once a year.

• Improve the lighting in their home.

• Reduce the hazards in their home that lead to falls, such as loose carpets, lack of bathroom safety equipment and slippery or uneven surfaces.

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