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DPHHS Urges Montanans To Be Fall Aware

Department of Public Health and Human Services officials report that nearly one in three Montanans aged 65 and older have reported falling at least once in the last 12 months.

“Falling is not a normal part of aging, but knowing a person’s risk factors can reduce the chance of an unintentional fall.” DPHHS Falls Prevention Program manager Melissa Dale said. “As a person ages, they are at an increased risk for falling and sustaining an injury.”

National Falls Prevention Week was Sept. 18-24.

Dale notes that almost half (48 percent) of the falls among Montanans aged 55 and over are from a slip, trip, or stumble from the ground level. In fact, over 1,900 Montanans were hospitalized due to unintentional falls in 2021.

Many falls are preventable through proactive steps. These steps include: Find a good balance and exercise program. Look to build balance, strength, and flexibility.

Talk to your healthcare provider. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling.

Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling.

Get your vision and hearing checked annually. Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet.

Keep your home safe. Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.

Talk to your family members. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue.

Dale states that more than half of all falls occur at home, but this can be reduced by making a few safety modifications and through practical lifestyle changes. “Older adults need to be aware of what activities may put them at risk,” she said.

The National Council on Aging and DPHHS have partnered to bring awareness to older Montanans to learn about their falls risk. The NCOA has a free, falls risk assessment tool, Falls Free Check-Up at https:// checkup. The Falls Free Check-Up is an easy-to-use questionnaire. Upon completion of the 12 questions, the risk assessment is provided. The more risk factors calculated, the higher chance an individual has of falling.

“Those who have multiple risk factors for falling, who have fallen, or have a fear of falling are welcome to attend a falls prevention workshop,” Dale said.

DPHHS works closely with local communities across Montana to offer falls prevention workshops, which include Stepping On and Stay Active & Independent for Life (SAIL). These programs focus on practical steps to reduce the risk of falling through lifestyle management and physical activity.

To locate Stepping On and SAIL workshops, visit the Montana Falls Prevention Program website at Falls Prevention Classes or call 1-844684-5848.

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