Services (including falls prevention/home safety)
Falls are preventable and are not a normal part of aging (CDC, 2014)! Below is a listing of the services we offer through the agency to help reduce injuries and improve the safety of Pitt County adults ages 55 and older.
- Home Safety Assessments* and recommendations to improve one’s safety within the home.
- Balance and Falls Risk Screenings* to help individuals identify risk factors and learn strategies to improve their safety and reduce their risk of falling.
- Home Accessibility Modifications* to facilitate independence and safety (e.g. widening doorways, removing tubs, and installing a shower stall.)
- Bathroom grab bars and stair handrail installation* to enable adults to live more safely and independently.
- A Matter of Balance evidence-based group classes, held for 8 sessions (2 hours each) to help decrease the fear of falling, educate individuals about falls prevention strategies, and instruct in basic exercises to help reduce falls risk.
- Please view our newsletter and upcoming events more information and to register for upcoming classes.
- Here is a video about the Matter of Balance program which provides additional information. https://my.mmc.org/media/PFHA/AMatterOfBalance/
- To find out more information about the listed Council on Aging services please contact the Healthy Aging Specialist at (252) 752-1717 ext. 14. (See also the Healthy Aging section of the website).
*Fees may apply if individuals do not qualify for services.
Falls Prevention Statistics
- About 1 in 3 people age 65 and over fall each year (CDC, 2015)
- Over 2.5 million older adults go the emergency room, and over 734,000 are hospitalized each year due to fall related injuries (CDC, 2015)
- In 2013, fall-related injuries in the U.S. for people 65 years and older in cost over 34 billion dollars (CDC, 2015)
- More than ½ the falls occur in someone’s own home (NIH, 2014)
- Older drivers who have had past falls are more likely to have a car accident compared to their peers (NHTSA, AAA, CDC)
Common Falls Risk Factors
- Fear of falling
- Feeling unsteady when walking
- Falls in the past year; advanced age
- Incorrect usage of walkers, canes
- Various medical conditions
- Changes in blood pressure with position changes
- Uncorrected vision problems
- Foot problems
- Problems with heart rate/rhythm
- Depression, thinking problems
- Strength, balance, walking problems
Proven Strategies to Reduce Fall Risk
Make your Home Safe
- Place sturdy handrails on stairs and use adequate lighting
- Secure or remove scatter rugs
- Use adequate lighting
- Use non-slip mats in the tub/shower
- Use grab bars in the bathroom
- Use a higher toilet seat if the toilet is too low
- Obtain a shower chair if you need to sit down to safely shower (CDC, 2014)
- Here are a couple of short videos which provide information on strategies to make your home safer:
Participate in Regular Exercise (with your doctor’s approval)
- Check with your doctor about beginning an exercise program
- Exercise is one of the best ways to maintain/improve your strength, balance, and flexibility (CDC, 2014)
- Watch this short video by the National Institute on Health describing the importance of exercise to reduce fall risk
Have your Medications Reviewed by your Doctor or Pharmacist
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications (CDC, 2014)
- Tell your doctor if you take a medication causing daytime dizziness or sleepiness (CDC, 2014)
- Watch this short video by the National Institute on Health discussing the side effects of medications that increase the risk of falls
Have your Vision and Hearing Checked at Least Once a Year
- Have a vision exam and a hearing exam to help identify changes requiring treatment
- Your vision and hearing are important to avoid obstacles on the floor
- Use a contrasting color at the edge of steps if they are difficult to see
- Use a bell or sound on a pet’s collar if it is difficult to identify their location (CDC, 2014; Falls Prevention Center of Excellence, 2014)
Have Your Blood Pressure Checked Regularly
- Talk with your physician if you have dizziness when you stand up quickly
- Change positions slowly to avoid feeling lightheaded
- For example, move slowly from sitting to standing and standing to walking (CDC, 2014)
Inform Your Doctor and Family if you are Worried About Falling or Have Fallen
- Less than half of adults age 65 and over inform their physician about a fall
- The doctor can help identify why you fell and help you reduce your risk of future falls (CDC, 2014)
- Your family can assist you with making changes to reduce your fall risk and improve your safety in the home (NCOA, 2014)
Additional Falls Prevention Resources and Information
- This short video by the National Council on Aging overviews six primary strategies to reduce fall risk
- Here is a handout from the National Council on Aging describing six main strategies to reduce fall risk
- Here is a pamphlet by the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention describing What you can do to Prevent Falls
North Carolina Resources
- The North Carolina Falls Prevention Coalition has statistics and fact sheets related to falls in North Carolina
- Healthy Aging North Carolina has information about healthy aging programs
- The National Falls Prevention Resource Center, housed at the National Council on Aging, has videos, a listing of evidence-based falls prevention programs, and educational information related to falls prevention.
- The Centers on Disease Control and Prevention has a variety of resources and information about falls prevention for participants and health care professionals.
- The Falls Prevention Center of Excellence has handouts and information about a variety of falls prevention and home safety topics.
Awards and Honors for Reducing Falls and Improving Health
The Pitt County Council on Aging has been honored for its work in improving the health and safety of older adults in Pitt County. A listing of our awards for this work is included below.
- 2017: The National Council on Aging (NCOA) partnered with the University of Southern California (USC) Leonard Davis School of Gerontology to identify a listing of evidence-based programs and best practices related to home assessments and home modification. The Council on Aging’s Falls Prevention and Home Safety program was identified as one of eight Best Practices In Home Modification! Home Modification Programs and Practices
- 2015: The Pitt County Council on Aging’s Falls Prevention & Home Safety program received a ‘Reaching for the Stars-Innovative Program Award’ from the North Carolina Association on Aging for having an innovative and creative program that is ‘working to enrich the lives of older adults.’
- 2015: The Council on Aging received the ‘Sylvia M. English Community Health Hero Award’ from Pitt Partners for Health in “recognition of outstanding efforts to improve the health of citizens in our community.”
- 2013: The Council on Aging was featured in the National Council on Aging’s Falls Prevention Awareness Day “Preventing Falls – One Step at a Time: A Compendium of State and National Activities.”
- 2008: The Council on Aging was highlighted, by the National Center for Injury Prevention & Control, in “Preventing Falls: How to Develop Community-based Fall Prevention Programs for Older Adults.”
- 2007: The County Council on Aging Falls Prevention Program received a national award from the Falls Free Coalition Home Safety Council for being one of the 10 most creative programs and practices in home assessment and modification in the country. The program was also written up in a publication entitled, “The Creative Practices in Home Safety Assessment and Modification Study.”