Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Did you know Minnesota has the highest unintentional fall death rate in the country? And
60 percent of falls are surface and lighting related and can be prevented through simple home modifications! Falls are the biggest reason seniors end up in nursing homes. It is estimated that 50 percent of falls can be averted through interventions which include home modification, medication management, and an evidence based exercise program.
Minnesota joined 49 other states and the Falls Free© Coalition in declaring a statewide Falls Prevention Awareness Day on the first day of fall, Sept. 22, 2012. This year's theme, Standing Together to Prevent Falls, seeks to unite professionals, older adults, caregivers, and family members to play a part in raising awareness and preventing falls in the older adult population.
Formed in 2009, the Central Minnesota Falls Prevention and Home Safety Coalition is an organization made up of representatives from RSVP, St. Cloud Hospital, St. Cloud Fire and Police Departments, the Central Minnesota Council on Aging, SPOT Rehabilitation and the Parish Nurse Association with the goal of reducing the number of falls that occur in the St. Cloud Area.
The Coalition chose to respond at the local level by looking at how we can reduce falls and support seniors in maintaining their independence. We do this by providing free home safety assessments to seniors in Benton, Sherburne and Stearns counties. The Medica Foundation is supporting this initiative with a $5,000 grant. In addition, the Corporation for National and Community Service is providing nearly $30,000 a year for three years to support the program and its volunteers. RSVP administers the grants and coordinates the volunteers and home safety assessments.
Home safety assessments and modifications are conducted by volunteers who have completed a thorough background check and have been trained by local firefighters, law enforcement and first responder personnel. Safety assessments take approximately two hours to complete and clients are asked to have a family member or representative with them. The assessment identifies ways the senior can make their home safer such as removing throw rugs and extension cords, installing hand rails, grab bars, smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors, checking the temperature on their refrigerator and making sure lighting is adequate. Home modifications may be as simple as replacing a light bulb in a stairway that is too high for a senior to reach or adding a nightlight to a dimly lit hallway.
Catching seniors before they fall-literally-is a key to independence!
For more information on how to volunteer or set up a home safety assessment, call RSVP at (320) 255-7295, or visit http://ci.stcloud.mn.us/ (Departments/RSVP/Initiatives) or www.ncoa.org/falls-prevention.