The Utah Falls Prevention Alliance was formed in May 2017. The group is composed of diverse stakeholders dedicated to reducing falls and fall injuries in Utah’s older adult population. We work to increase public awareness of the steps older adults and their families can take to prevent falls.
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death and hospitalizations in Utahns age 65 and older. A fall is not just a fall. A fall is often a life-changing event. It impacts not only the person that fell but family and other loved ones.
- Independence and ability to age in place
- Huge financial cost
- Mental Health
- Impacts quality of life
- Social isolation
The key to falls prevention is exactly that, prevention. There are six easy ways to reduce the risk of falling outlined in the Falls Prevention Community Toolkit available through the Utah Department of Health.
- Begin a regular exercise program. Exercise improves strength and balance, as well as coordination. Optum Care Community Centers are a great resource for exercise programs – we have locations in Layton, Sandy, and West Valley with free classes for anyone 55 and older.
- The Community Centers host classes like yoga, beneficial for both strength and balance – two key components to preventing falls. Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider about your fall risk. It’s also important to tell your healthcare provider if you have fallen before.
- Have your healthcare provider review your medicines. Some medicines or combinations of medicines can make you sleepy or dizzy and can cause you to fall.
- Your eyes and ears are the keys to keeping you on your feet. Have your vision and hearing checked at least once a year.
- Make your home safer. Remove tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter in walkways and on stairs. Install grab bars next to your toilet and shower.
- Talk to your family members and ask for their help. Falling is not just an older adult issue, family members can help you stay safe.
- A fall can be startling, especially if you are an older adult and you live by yourself. Here are a few important steps to take after a fall occurs:
- Take deep breaths to try and relax – this can help with the shock of falling.
- Determine whether you are hurt before getting up – getting up too quickly or in the wrong way could make a potential injury worse.
- If you can get up safely without help, roll over to your side and rest while your body and blood pressure adjust.
- Slowly get up on your hands and knees and crawl to a sturdy seat or chair. Use the chair to help you slowly rise to your feet or sit, if necessary.
- If you are hurt and cannot get up on your own, ask someone for help or call 911. If you are alone, try to get into a comfortable position and wait for help to arrive.
- It can be helpful to carry a mobile phone around the house so that you are able to call someone for help if you need it. There may also be a case for having an emergency response system in the form of a bracelet or necklace that allows you to call for help.
- Where to find more information:
- Find information and resources on the Utah Commission on Aging website under Utah Falls Prevention Alliance.
- And at our Optum Care Community Centers we have fall prevention handouts free to anyone who’d like them.
- To learn more about the Community Centers and classes available or to pick up the exercise handout visit their website to find a location near you.