The annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day (FPAD) — September 23, 2019 — raises awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among older adults. National, state, and local partners collaborate to educate others about the impact of falls, share fall prevention strategies, and advocate for the expansion of evidence-based community fall prevention programs. National and state efforts are published in NCOA’s annual FPAD Impact Report. If you would like to learn more about fall prevention efforts in your state, please contact your State Falls Prevention Coalition lead.
Take action to prevent osteoporosis, falls, and broken bones. Download and share this one-page handout on the link between fall-related injuries and osteoporosis. Created by the NCOA Falls Free® Coalition and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors.
Last week an NPR story included information on tai chi as a fall prevention exercise. I was intrigued because I have recently started teaching Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention developed the Tai Chi for Health Institute.
Here are the relevant parts of the story and a link to the full story.
What are some of the interventions you’ve used that can help seniors?
You can do so many things. First of all, I tell everybody you’ve got to do some balance training. Tai chi is probably the best exercise to prevent falls, but whatever works for you. And, interestingly, just walking does not reduce your risk for falling. So a lot of doctors will say, “Just get out and walk 20 minutes every day, and that’ll keep you safe. That’ll help you stay healthy.” Walking is great for your heart; it’s great for your brain; it’s great for lots of it. But in order to really reduce your risk for falls, you’ve got to do something specific to balance.
What makes tai chi a good exercise to prevent falls? And why isn’t walking a good alternative?
Walking is kind of just keeping you in one plane moving forward, and it’s not doing any kind of postural training. What tai chi does is it gives you an increased area of postural stability, [which is] kind of your being able to remain upright in space. When you do tai chi, you do stepping moves to the front, to the side; you move your arms out, you reach, you bend. And basically that increases the size of your postural stability so that you can catch yourself and not have the fall. You can be a little bit off kilter and right yourself.
For the first time since 2001, the American Geriatrics Society and the British Geriatrics Society have updated their guidelines for preventing falls in older people. The update includes two notable changes: One recommends tai chi — the meditative, slow-motion Chinese exercise — as an effective way to prevent falls, while another suggests that doctors review medication use by all elderly patients, with an eye toward reducing use of those drugs that increase the risk of falling.