By Abby Sibilski, GCC older adult program assistant
As another slippery Wisconsin winter approaches, it is important to be cautious about falls. Not only does Wisconsin rank as No. 1 in fall-related deaths, but falls are the No. 1 cause of injury-related deaths in the state. Many believe that falls are an inevitable part of aging, however there are several precautions that can be taken to prevent them.
Falls Free Wisconsin is is part of a nationwide committee with the goal of preventing falls among older adults. It has a new website, FallsFreeWI.org, that is a great resource for raising awareness about fall risks, how to take preventative measures and what to do if you experience a fall. The site also has a home safety challenge feature that presents an interactive tour of a typical Wisconsin home where you search for things that may cause falls while also learning how to fall-proof a home.
While most falls do occur in one’s home, it is important to know other factors that impact fall risks. Winter poses many risks with snow and ice on the ground and less sun during the day to dry things up.
Ashley Hillman with Safe Communities, a coalition of nonprofits working to make our community safer, recommends using shoe-traction devices or even utilizing ice tips for canes when walking outdoors in winter.
Regardless of the time of year, strength and balance are also contributing factors when it comes to fall prevention. Though maintaining physical stability can become more difficult with age, there are several ways in which one can incorporate more mobility into daily life. Falls Free Wisconsin recommends doing three activities per week that promote balance and at least two activities per week that work to strengthen major muscle groups.
The Safer Communities website (safercommunity.net) is a great resource to find local programs to help you to improve your strength and balance. A class like tai chi fundamentals at the Goodman Community Center is a great one to take.
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