Preventing trips, slips, falls and close calls
ADRC Answer of the Month
October 1, 2022 | View PDF
Fall in Alaska is unpredictable, and usually that means snow and slippery surfaces. It is easy to be distracted when in familiar surroundings, and this creates an accident waiting to happen and we trip, slip, fall or have a scary close call.
According to the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2020, Alaska led the nation as the highest-risk state when it came to falls of people over 65 years of age. The U.S. average is 27.1% and Alaska is 36.5%. This means approximately 1 in 3 Alaskans aged 65 and older are falling each year. Why is this? We are certainly not the only state with cold icy winters. Illinois for example, came in at 20%.
Alaska’s high fall numbers may be partially due to lack of safe and maintained walkways, lack of easily accessible transportation, and with so many seniors living in rural areas, lack of access to medical providers for preventive care.
Some of the factors that contribute to falls, and related injuries could be reduced or prevented. For example:
Poor balance could be prevented by regular exercise, such as walking.
Low-vision can be addressed with regular eye checks.
Medications contributing to dizziness and falls can be discussed with your provider.
Alcohol consumption can be reduced. Even small amounts affect balance and reflexes.
Frailty due to aging could be addressed using an assistive device fitted for you by your provider
Vitamin D deficiency, affecting bone health, can be treated. Talk to your provider.
Work on a good sleep regimen. If you are tired, you are more likely to fall.
Get rid of poor-fitting footwear, have your feet checked yearly, wear non-slip soles.
Being in a hurry is hazardous; be cautious and take your time and try to keep your arms at your side (think penguin).
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors, and the problems resulting from a fall increase with age. Oftentimes a fall keeps us from going outside during the autumn and winter months. We become inactive and fearful, which increases our fall risk.
If you have additional questions regarding falls, please feel free to contact your local community or senior center for information on exercise, fall prevention programs, or options for improving home safety. Also, all Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) in Alaska are available to answer questions regarding where to find more information on fall prevention, and winter safety.
Fall is beautiful in Alaska - I hope you get a chance to get outside and enjoy the Fall colors, nature, and fresh air. Just remember to dress warm, stay safe, and prevent falls.
You can also find more information on fall prevention by visiting http://www.cdc.gov/steadi, or calling CDC at 1 800 232-4636.
Diana Hunter-Carlson is the Mat-Su LINKS/ADRC Program Director.
Alaska’s Aging and Disability Resource centers connect seniors, people with disabilities, and caregivers with long-term services and supports. For assistance and answers, call your regional ADRC toll-free at 1-855-565-2017. Or visit the Alaska Div. of Senior and Disabilities Services ADRC website at https://dhss.alaska.gov/dsds/pages/adrc.