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Falling is NOT normal aging

Sue Daugherty • Jul 31, 2014 at 7:30 AM

Here is a fact: Falling or fear of falling is not “normal” aging. If you have fallen or you are fearful of falling, this is not something you should accept as being a normal course of the aging process. Something is causing you to have impaired balance or leg strength. Something is causing the fall or placing you at risk for falling — and it is not your age.

Too many retirees attribute falling as part of what they have to “live with” as they grow “older” Therefore, they don’t bother to tell their doctor about the changes they are experiencing, because they think it’s “just normal” Most cope with the change by walking less and being more selective as to where they walk. Others get a cane or a walker. The end result is nothing is done to properly diagnose the problem and restore the older person’s ability to walk confidently and safely.

Serving Our Seniors is hosting a public forum entitled “Falling is NOT Normal Aging” It’s 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 15, at the Erie County Services Center, 2900 Columbus Ave., Perkins Township. This is not a lecture, but a panel discussion between health care professionals and the audience. The panel will consist of two resident physicians with Firelands Regional Medical Center — Dr. Matt Widmer and Dr. Lucy O’Brien. Chris Wells, physical therapist with Advanced Health, will also sit on the speakers panel. This is not a forum for free medical advice, rather it is a discussion with professionals to educate yourself on what is normal — and what is not normal — when it comes to falling in later life.

If you are age 65 or older and not planning to attend, let me share some facts that should make you rethink your decision. According to the National Council on Aging’s website:

•One-third of older Americans, age 65 and older, fall each year.

•Every 14 seconds an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.

•Every 29 seconds an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the secondleading cause of accidental death in the United States.

There are many causes for this falling phenomenon. Here are a few examples:

•Medication side effects: Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can have side effects and drug interactions that may cause dizziness.

•Visual deficits: good vision helps balance.

•Being hard of hearing: We use hearing to orient ourselves to our surroundings and avoid being startled. Hearing loss or hearing-aid malfunctions can increase your risk of falling.

•Blood pressure: a change in blood pressure can cause dizziness.

•Poor walking patterns: changes in walking due to injury/pain, weakness, disease; and ill-fitting or worn footwear.

•Decline in activity level: a recent illness, hospitalization or gradual inactivity creates weakness. Weakness is what puts you at risk for falling.

•Foot deformities: Foot deformities impair your balance and ability to walk safely and confidently.

An audience of 25 or more is required to justify the time of our panelists. RSVPs are due no later than 5 p.m., Aug. 13. Call Serving Our Seniors at 419-624-1856 or 800-564-1856. Ask for Sarah’s voicemail. Leave your name, the event you are registering to attend, and your phone number. If we have to cancel due to lack of attendance you will be notified.

Ask Serving Our Seniors

Q: I have an electric stove. Does Serving Our Seniors still have the stove sensors that shut off your stovetop if you forget you left food cooking on the burner?

A: Yes. If you are an Erie County resident, age 60 or older, please call for more information, 419-624-1856. There is no cost for the device. There is a fee for the professional installation.

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