One in four Americans age 65 and older take an unexpected tumble each year. During Falls Prevention Awareness Week, experts encourage them to participate in programs to help them stay healthy and independent.

Wendy Farthing, director of evidence-based integration for the Maryland Living Well Center for Excellence, said her agency works with community-based groups to provide workshops.

“These workshops that we offer across the state with various agencies, they help the older adult improve their efficacy and keep them engaged and active, and keep them in their home,” Farthing explained.

Research shows exercise and movement, like Tai Chi, improve balance and strengthen legs, which can help prevent falls. Check with your health care provider about which type of exercise is best. More information on workshops related to preventing falls is online at mdlivingwell.org/programs.

Jennifer Tripken, associate director of the Center of Healthy Aging for the National Council on Aging, said having open and ongoing conversations about preventing falls can stave off trips to the emergency room, hospital stays, and decreased quality of life. She pointed to the Falls Free Checkup, a brief online questionnaire that can help anyone gauge their risk.

“If somebody is leaning on furniture or feels a little bit unsteady on their feet, that’s good to know because that’s an indicator there’s something that person can do about that,” Tripken emphasized. “They should look to engage in a strength and balance or flexibility exercise program.”

Tripken added regular vision checkups, proper footwear, and awareness of medication side effects such as dizziness or sleepiness can help prevent falls. According to the Maryland Department of Health’s latest available data, in 2015, more than 500 people aged 65 or older died in fall-related incidents.


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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