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Preventing falls at home and helping our loved ones stay safe

June 7, 2024
a woman standing outside a house

By: Nicole Griffin - WRTV

More than one in four people ages 65 years and older fall each year, according to the National Institute on Aging.

Lillie Ford has lived in her northeast side home for 32 years.

"I'm planning on staying here as long as I can," Ford said.

Her goal was to own her home and raise her kids there.

"Then retire in my home and be able to work in my yard and do different things around the house. So, I just want to be safe doing it," Ford said.

Ford took an early retirement in 2016, partly due to her balance.

"Something just wasn't right," Ford said. "So, I found myself stumbling and possibly falling."

More than one-in-four people ages 65 years and older fall each year, according to the National Institute on Aging.

WRTV asked Tauhric Brown, the President & CEO of CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, his reaction to that statistic.

"It scares me," Brown said. "Falls are very challenging for older adults. So, we have to approach this from a few different angles. There's the preventative measures where we can assist an older adult make very slight changes in their environment."

Brown says once a fall happens, it almost always happens at some point again in the future.

"So, it's really important that caregivers and loved ones of older adults are really thinking about looking around their environment and trying to scan it to determine what slight improvements could be made. That reduces the risk of falls," Brown said.

Examples Brown provided include replacing dim light bulbs, tacking down frayed carpet, stabilizing banisters and handrails.

Ford knows the importance of making improvements outside of her northeast side home.

"I only have two steps, but of course, I fell down on those two steps," Ford said.

Then, one night she got up to go to the bathroom and her balance was off and she fell.

"I was really shocked," Ford said.

The fall required her to get stitches.

Since then, she's taken proactive steps to ensure she is safe at home. She does physical therapy and occupational therapy. She now wears slip-resistant shoes.

"If you need some help, always reach out. Don't be afraid or don't be ashamed, because there's help out there for us," Ford said.

CICOA provides home accessibility modifications through the Medicaid waiver.

If you need your home assessed or other assistance, you can reach out to CICOA's Aging and Disability Resource Center.

Brown also advises seniors to get their vision checked, review medication and exercise.

"I was tripping all over the place," Matthew V. Cascio said. "A couple of times I got bumped up pretty good."

Cascio enrolled in YMCA'S moving for better balance class, because he was also starting to fall.

"What these classes have brought to me is consciousness. So walking up steps, or when you walk down the street and there's a piece of pavement up higher than the other, it's picking your foot up," Cascio said.

"People who are aging and starting to be a little more unsteady on their feet, a kitchen rug is much more dangerous than a wet floor. Floor transitions are probably the biggest cause of falling," Michelle Sweeny, YMCA Instructor said.

Sweeny teaches a simple technique to help her members avoid falling.

"So, placing your heel down first and then your toes so that as you step you're able to really clear any obstacles or objects that are on the ground in front of you," Sweeny said.

The YMCA says classes like this can help people feel strong, steady and safe so they can remain active and independent.

"Falls can be deadly. We really want our community to be safe in their homes, and out getting groceries and living their life. So, that is why we are really committed to helping people do that," Anna McIntyre, YMCA Association Director of Community Health, said.

To sign up for classes like the moving for better balance class, search chronic disease programs on the YMCA of Greater Indianapolis website.

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