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Six myths about older adult falls

Tai Chi for Healthy AgingOur Tai Chi for Healthy Aging classes help you learn better balance through simple exercises, which reduces your risk of falls.This Sunday, September 21, kicks off Active Aging week, and Tuesday, September 23, is National Falls Prevention Awareness Day.

These might not seem like a natural pairing at first, but remaining active as you age actually goes a significant way to preventing dangerous falls – and this connection isn’t the only truth about falls that some people might not realize; to highlight a few more, here are six debunked myths about older adult falls from the National Council on Aging.

Myth 1: Falling happens to other people, not to me.

Reality: Many people think, “It won’t happen to me.” But the truth is that one in three older adults – about 12 million – fall every year in the U.S.

Myth 2: Falling is something normal that happens as you get older.

Reality: Falling is not a normal part of aging. Strength and balance exercises, managing your medications, having your vision checked and making your living environment safer are all steps you can take to prevent a fall.

Myth 3: As long as I stay at home, I can avoid falling.

Reality: Over half of all falls take place at home. Inspect your home for fall risks. Fix simple but serious hazards such as clutter, throw rugs, and poor lighting. Make simple home modifications, such as adding grab bars in the bathroom, a second handrail on stairs, and non-slip paint on outdoor steps.

Myth 4: Muscle strength and flexibility can’t be regained.

Reality: While we do lose muscle as we age, exercise can partially restore strength and flexibility. It’s never too late to start an exercise program. Even if you’ve been a “couch potato” your whole life, becoming active now will benefit you in many ways – including protection from falls.

Myth 5: I don’t need to talk to family members or my health care provider if I’m concerned about my risk of falling. I don’t want to alarm them, and I want to keep my independence.

Reality: Fall prevention is a team effort. Bring it up with your doctor, family, and anyone else who is in a position to help. They want to help you maintain your mobility and reduce your risk of falling.

Myth 6: I don’t need to talk to my parent, spouse, or other older adult if I’m concerned about their risk of falling. It will hurt their feelings, and it’s none of my business.

Reality: Let them know about your concerns and offer support to help them maintain the highest degree of independence possible. There are many things you can do, including removing hazards in the home, finding a fall prevention program in the community, or setting up a vision exam.

Read the full article (©2014 National Council on Aging) at www.ncoa.org.

Our Healthy Living program offers workshops on balance, Tai Chi for Healthy Aging classes and more. Read more.