Post Content

CarlenePavlosPosted by Carlene Pavlos, Director of the Division of Violence and Injury Prevention.

Every year in America, one out of three people age 65 or older experiences a fall – and in Massachusetts, falls are the leading cause of injury death for this population. These are alarming statistics – but the personal toll of falls in older adults can be even more dramatic.

That’s because for those who survive a fall, serious injuries are frequently the result — including hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries.  For some, this will lead to restricted independence and a permanent decline in their quality of life.

Even in the face of these unfortunate facts, there’s a surprising level of misunderstanding (even within some medical circles) about older people and falling…..that it’s something to be expected, like the wrinkling of skin and graying hair.  Take a look at the National Council on Aging (NCOA) publication “Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls” to read some of the interesting misconceptions and erroneous beliefs about falls.

Falls Prevention image

The important thing to know is that falls are preventable, and an upcoming event at the Massachusetts State House is devoted to explaining how.

On September 24th at 10am, the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition will host the sixth annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day. Five years ago, NCOA began encouraging states to observe the first day of fall in September, as the ideal time of year to promote public awareness about falls prevention. The Massachusetts Coalition has adopted this year’s NCOA theme of “Standing Together to Prevent Falls” to highlight the need for a united effort from health care providers, public health professionals, community-based organizations, legislators, caregivers and elders themselves in focusing on falls and identifying the most effective ways to prevent them.

We hope you can join us for this important event. But in the meantime, there are several simple lifestyle changes that  older adults and their families can make to reduce the risk of falls:

1)      Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medications – some have negative side effects that can cause dizziness or alter balance and coordination;

2)      Eat right – including lots of fruits and vegetables, and vitamin D supplements for bone strength);

3)      Get regular vision exams – at least once a year because poor vision can increase your risk for falls;

4)      Make your home safe – get rid of clutter, install handrails on both sides of stairwells, and remove throw rugs.

5)      Stay physically active – your local Council on Aging may have additional resources and programs to help improve strength and balance, promote physical activity, and reduce a fear of falling such as A Matter of Balance.

Written By:


health communication writer and editor

Recent Posts

Weekly Flu Report, December 19, 2014 posted on Dec 19

Rates of flu-like illness increased slightly over the past seven days in Massachusetts, as indicated in the latest weekly flu report. Flu season doesn’t tend to peak until later in February or even March – so there is still plenty of time to get vaccinated   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, December 19, 2014

Weekly Flu Report, December 12, 2014 posted on Dec 12

This week’s flu report shows a slight dip in rates of flu-like illness since last week’s report – which is entirely in keeping with the unpredictable nature of flu season. One thing we know for sure is that no matter what, the single best way to   …Continue Reading Weekly Flu Report, December 12, 2014

Highlights of the Public Health Council Meeting, December 10, 2014 posted on Dec 10

The December monthly meeting of the Public Health Council featured the consideration of one Determination of Need (DoN) request, two votes on final amendments to existing regulations, and an informational presentation to the Council on a key DPH community initiative. First, the Council took up   …Continue Reading Highlights of the Public Health Council Meeting, December 10, 2014