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Healthy Living: Fall prevention for older people

Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 2:19 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Losing balance as one grows older is a bigger issue than most people imagine. A loss of balance could cause any individual to fall, but there’s a specific age group at higher risk than most.

In this week’s Healthy Living, Trever Kingsbury, a rehabilitation therapist at Alaska Regional Hospital, offers insight into the dangers of falling for individuals older than age 65.

”Someone over age 65, there’s someone falling every second across the United States and someone dying every 20 minutes,” Kingsbury said, adding that as people grow older the aging process starts to settle in, making an individual weaker and lose balance, therefore, putting them at higher risk of falling.

He explained that falls are the No. 1 cause for traumatic brain injuries and hip fractures. Kingsbury added that falls are the top predictor of an individual’s loss of independence.

Kingsbury said prevention is the key to counteracting the odds, and there are three main areas to focus on.

The first is modifying one’s home environment. That may include clearing rugs on the floor, installing night lights and keeping the house tidy.

Secondly, Kingsbury said older people should get a fall screening, which gives an idea of a person’s fall risk. He added that there are online questionnaires that can give a similar idea of one’s situation before taking the assessment.

Lastly, take ownership in one’s own healthcare by asking questions and staying up to date with health care providers.

“Often times those visits go pretty fast when you’re in to see your doctor or any other provider and saying ‘you know am I at a risk, could you do a screening with me/’ And that’s something they absolutely can do,” Kingsbury said.

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