Preventing Falls and Helping Seniors Stay Active
Author: Public Health Department
10/24/2018 12:56:43 PM
Classes, in-home assessments and a new meetup group engage SLO County seniors in staying safe from falls.
For one senior SLO County resident, the best part of fall prevention class was learning new exercises she practices each morning to build strength and balance. For another, it was a presentation that prompted him to ask his doctor about how his daily medicine might affect balance. Others said they appreciated the nutrition tips and take-home books. For many students, though, the most powerful benefit of fall prevention class goes beyond a single lesson or fact sheet: it’s the confidence to stay active and independent in the face of risk.
Falls are the leading cause of injury and injury-related death among seniors in the U.S. About 20 percent of reported falls lead to serious health consequences such as fractures, broken bones or head injuries. In SLO County, emergency medical services data shows that in 2014, an average of five seniors a day called 911 because of a fall. Many seniors are well aware of this risk and react by scaling back their activity—a natural reaction that officials say unfortunately increases the chance of falling and hurts seniors’ quality of life.
In response, the Public Health Department launched a program in 2017 to engage SLO County seniors in reducing their risk of falls. Since then, more than 150 seniors have taken part in fall prevention classes at 11 assisted living facilities and senior centers in Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Heritage Ranch, Morro Bay, Nipomo, Oceano, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo. Classes focus on vision, medication management, nutrition, balance exercises, pedestrian safety and other individual concerns. Just as important, classes connect students with peers and jump-start conversations about how to stay active and safe.
For seniors most at risk of falling at home, health educators provide home safety assessments to identify needed repairs or areas where small modifications—like installing hand rails—can make a big difference. In cases where seniors aren’t able to make or pay for these repairs themselves, the program connects them with local organizations such as CAPSLO and Habitat for Humanity to help complete the repairs.
Now, the fall prevention program is engaging more seniors with a new monthly meetup hosted in partnership with Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center. The SLOCO Seniors group offers a place to share experiences, get support, and seek the guidance of other seniors in pursuing goals and activities. The group is open to the public and meets on the third Monday of every month at 10 a.m. in the Sierra Vista Auditorium.
To learn more or connect with services, check out fall prevention program information and fall prevention tips for seniors.
Check out a fall prevention class spotlight: