Anyone can fall, but the risk of falling and being seriously injured by a fall increases with age. One in three adults over the age of 65 falls each year, causing the majority of injury and injury-related deaths among seniors. National Falls Prevention Awareness Day is the first day of fall, Sept 22. This day brings attention to the seriousness of falls and the ways to prevent them.
Four simple ways to reduce the risk of a fall include exercise, healthy vision, safe home environments and smart medication usage.
Exercise, especially an activity that improves balance and coordination such as tai chi, is a key in preventing falls. Lifting weights can reduce the risk of a fall as it strengthens muscles and bones and helps you feel better and stronger. It’s important to consult with a physician or health care provider before starting an exercise program to find one that is right for you.
It is normal for vision to change with age, but poor vision increases the chances of falling. You can minimize poor vision by having annual eye exams, maintaining and wearing the correct prescription glasses and contacts, and controlling your exposure to glare and changes in light.
More than half of all falls occur at home. Living in an unsafe or cluttered environment increases the risk of falls. To avoid accidents, make sure tripping hazards, such as a grandchild’s toy or an extension cord, are off the floor. Proper lighting and appropriate shoes with non-slip soles and low heels are also helpful. It is also wise to wear an emergency alert button or keep a cell or cordless phone with you at all times in case of an emergency.
Finally, medication or a combination of medicines can sometimes have adverse effects that can make you feel dizzy or drowsy. It is important to have a physician or pharmacist review all prescription and over-the-counter medications to help reduce the risk of falling.
The fear of falling is also a risk factor for falls. Sometimes people become inactive or socially isolated because they fear falling. If you find yourself in this situation, let your physician know. Your physician may help you get to the root of your fear or even refer you to a physical therapist who can design an exercise program to meet your needs.
The University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service offers two fall prevention programs, Stand Up to Falling and A Matter of Balance. These programs aim to educate participants about the risk of falling and teach ways to prevent falls and the fear of falling in order to help older adults stay safer and more independent as they age.
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The recent salmonella outbreak traced to cantaloupes grown in Indiana has many Kentuckians concerned about consuming melons, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to abstain from eating this fresh summer delicacy. When properly handled, melons can be a safe, satisfying treat.
Here are some tips on how to safely handle melons:
* Buy melons from a local, reputable source. The shorter the distance food has to travel from farm to table, the less of a chance that microorganisms have grown on the produce. Microorganisms need time to multiply.
* Wash your hands before and after handling fresh produce.
* Before consuming, rinse melons with clean, running water and use a clean vegetable brush to scrub away debris on the skin, even if they have been prewashed. Washing the skin of fresh produce is important even if you are going to only eat the inside of the fruit as bacteria on the skin can be transferred to the flesh of the fruit when it is sliced.
* Do not use dishwashing or hand soap to wash produce. These items have not been tested for use on food.
* Cut melons using clean, sanitized knives and cutting boards.
* Once sliced, melons must be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and consumed within a few days.
* Avoid consuming any melons if the store, restaurant or market does not know where they were grown. You may also want to avoid purchasing pre-sliced melons as you do not know whether proper safety precautions were taken in their processing.
For more informative educational information, contact the Harlan County Cooperative Extension Service located at 519 South Main Street in Harlan or call 606-573-4464.
Education program of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin. University of Kentucky, Kentucky State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Kentucky Counties, Cooperating. Disabilities accommodated with prior notification.