September is Falls Prevention Awareness Month, which is an opportunity to assess your risk of falling and to take proactive steps to keep yourself safe. Falls are a major cause of unintentional death and injury, and they pose a significant threat to the health and independence of older Americans, according to the National Safety Council. More than one in four people 65 and older fall each year, resulting in 3 million emergency department visits, over 800,000 hospitalizations and 30,000 deaths.

There is good news though: falls are not a normal part of aging and can be prevented. Governor Evers recently proclaimed September Falls Prevention Awareness Month in Wisconsin and the CDC, the National Council on Aging, and the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging encourage you to take control of your health by following these simple steps to prevent a fall:

-Staying physically active: Regular exercise improves muscles and makes you stronger. It also helps keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. Join us in one of our morning yoga classes to work on staying limber and balanced.

-Safety in your home: Be sure to always pick things up if you happen to put them down. Keeping items clear of walking spaces is essential in home safety. Increasing light in darker areas, and adding assist bars throughout your home are also proven ways to aid in safety.

-Assess your own health: Discuss your risk of falling with your doctor and review your medications. Ask about any medication side-effects that could increase your risk of falling. If a drug makes you sleepy or dizzy, tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

-Use an assistive device if you need help feeling steady when you walk: Appropriate use of canes and walkers can prevent falls. If your doctor tells you to use a cane or walker, make sure it is the right size for you and the wheels roll smoothly. This is important when you're walking in areas you don't know well or where the walkways are uneven. A physical or occupational therapist can help you decide which devices might be helpful and teach you how to use them safely.

It is never too late to make steps towards improving balance and mitigating risk factors. Additionally, remember that fall prevention can reduce financial burden and injuries, increase independence, and can even save a life!

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Madison Senior Center and a link back to the original post.