By Leigh DeNoon
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - You might be surprised to learn that the number-one reason for emergency room visits and hospital admissions in Indiana is people falling.
According to Mary Raley, the injury prevention/trauma education outreach coordinator at St. Mary's Trauma Center in Evansville, falling is something to watch out for.
"I personally think injury prevention is a good investment," she said. "When you provide fall prevention - interventions for our high-risk elderly population - we're actually going to save money by keeping them at home and keeping them out of the hospital."
Falls cost older adults in the U.S. more than $80 billion a year. Raley holds workshops about adopting healthy behaviors, such as eating a more nutritious diet to stay strong. For more information on Fall Prevention Month, go to INFallPrevention.org.
Occupational therapist Heidi Altom of IU Home Health reported that some people resist making changes in the home after a fall.
"When you come in and start saying, 'Maybe we should move this and that' - it makes them a little nervous, because they've lived in that home 40 years and they've been fine," she said. "And they don't know why you need to rearrange and look at all these things. But when you get older there's lots of changes in your dynamic balance."
Altom said improving home lighting and removing throw rugs are simple ways to increase safety.
Chad Sears, executive director at The Hearth at Tudor Gardens in Zionsville, said his assisted living/memory care facility has a "fall committee," made up of employees from various departments, to make sure residents stay safe.
"A housekeeper might have something to share that a nurse might not see from a resident's room or apartment" he noted.
Sears said they have a full-time wellness aide on staff to help residents remain independent, and that exercise classes like tai chi and yoga promote strengthening and stability.
Karyl Leslie of Greensburg took a "fall prevention" workshop last year and learned how significant a few simple exercises can be on maintaining balance.
"Definitely you make progress as you do them every day - and you lose some strength and ability when you don't do them every day."
Leslie said she hasn't fallen since taking the workshop.