I always welcome the days of September, the month that celebrates the Fall Season and National Fall Prevention Awareness Week. This year, we celebrate National Fall Prevention Awareness Week, September 18-24, the 22nd being the first day of Fall.
You may recall, this special week designation is dedicated to raising awareness of preventing falls and reducing fall risks, so you know the many organizations and resources within your community organizations to help you.
Falls Downstairs are Devasting
Before I share these resources, I want to remind you that all around you are risks that contribute to a fall in your home. When “high-profile” people fall and die, there is immediate attention and awareness for prevention. This occurred when Ms. Ivana Trump fell in her home, Jun. 15, 2022. I learned like you, that sadly she died from her fall. I did not know how she fell.I learned that day, that she was having trouble walking, her gait and balance were impaired after spending less time walking and exercising while isolating during to COVID-19.
It was not until Inside Edition contacted me on June 16th, that I learned that she fell down her staircase in her home, sustaining major trauma to her torso. I was asked to speak about her fall, and I did. In 10 minutes after being contacted, I was interviewed for Inside Edition for their segment that evening: available here (please skip the ads). While not included in my on-TV interview, I spoke about how dangerous falls downstairs are. When compared to falling while you are walking, falls on stairs create a disproportionately high risk for loss of life and major injury such as traumatic brain injury and hip fracture. Jacobs (2016) reported that stair use is a significant predictor of hip fracture over other fall-related injuries for older adults. These falls are leading cause of accidental falls.
After the first Inside Edition segment, I asked my contact to run a segment on prevention of falls downstairs as part of their Health Features segment. And they did. Please view here
I so wished that she had moved her living area in her home to the first story of her home. Then, this fall would have been prevented and she would still be with us.
I wrote to the audience of LinkedIn to plead with those caring from their mother, father, grandmother or grandfather to act now to prevent what happened to Ms. Ivana Trump, engage in tough conversations, such as moving loved ones down to the first story. And I heard back from many. One gentleman shared with all reader that he moved his mother out of a two-story house into a one-story house, for this very reason – her safety. I congratulated him, as a role model for others.
So many falls, fall-related injuries and loss of life are preventable. Your Harmony Team and I do not want this to be you or member of your family.
As you know, there are many ways to fall. I have written to you about these, prevention strategies and resources over the last three years.
Today, as we ready for our 2022 National Fall Prevention Awareness Week, I ask you again to explore resources to help reduce your risks, while improve your health.
National Council on Aging Resources
This year, the National Council on Aging (NCOA) created resources to help organizations learn about community networks and your team, as the theme this year is: “Strengthening Community Connections in Falls Prevention”. While reviewing these resources, I thought of you – there are many resources in your community to help you.
Each year, NCOA creates a resource toolkit for you and your community organizations to participate and contribute to this national dedication to public health safety, especially for you.
They have prepared an informative display of community resources that may help expand your thinking about community stores and public resources that you can visit. If you click on this link, you will see a community drawing with a library, senior center, hardware store, faith-based organization, sporting goods store. Take a moment to click on each building at this link and learn about what each can offer you.
For example, at the sporting goods store, they have available shoes, clothing and equipment to help you stay active and reduce fall risks. When you click on the hardware store, they carry low-cost home improvement items, such as bathroom grab bars and non-slip bathmats to reduce fall risks in your home. They would also have improvement items to increase the safety of your stairs and steps if you ask them. If you have concerns, talk with store personnel. They want to help you. 6 These are but two examples of community resources that you have in your community.
Ladies and gentlemen, before accessing this tool, I had not thought about Sporting Goods or Hardware Stores as resources for fall prevention equipment. I hope that you too learned! I also hope you will continue to check out this tool and further expand your knowledge of community organizations that can help you. I would love for you to share with others if you belong to senior community centers, and the resources and activities that help you reduce your fall risks while you enjoy being with your friends.
Friends, the NCOA has so many other resources for you, just like CDC. I hope this message inspires you to explore their site, so you can learn more to help you, your families and friends, because the burden of falling is great.
The Burden of Falls is only Increasing
CDC provides us with general data about fallers and falls. You know that 1 in 4 older adults fall each year. But did you know that in 2019 our Emergency Departments treated 3 million visits for older adults due to falls with injuries? These falls with injuries resulted in over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 34,000 deaths, making falls the leading cause of injury death for us. Falls and related injuries and death are increasing (CDC, Facts about Falls).
By 2030, we are projected to have 73 million older adults, who experience 52 million falls, resulting in 12 million injuries (CDC, Older Adult Fall Prevention).
You also know that there are proven ways to reduce and prevent falls. Falls are not a consequence of aging – they are not inevitable, rather for the most part, preventable. That is why your Harmony Team, and I are so dedicated to helping you.
Friends, I hope this information has been helpful to you. I have so enjoyed sharing with you over the years.
Thank you for reading this message.
Dr. Pat Quigley
Patricia A. Quigley, PhD ARNP CRRN FAAN FAANP FARN August 15, 2022
CDC. Facts about Falls. Available: https://www.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html Accessed Aug. 15, 2022
CDC. Older Adult Fall Prevention. Available here Accessed Aug. 15, 2022
Jacob, J.V. (2016). A review of stairway falls and stair negotiation: Lessons learned and future needs to reduce injury. Gait & Posture, 49: 159-167.
National Council on Aging. National Fall Prevention Resource Center. Available: here Accessed August 15, 2022.