Health Beat - Fall 2019 - 9

"We're trying to reach
as many people as we can,
and we're especially targeting seniors," says Patti Aumick,
Rehabilitation Services director at
Salina Regional. "Most fall-related
injuries are preventable, and hopefully through education, improved
knowledge and working together with
a number of community partners we
can make a difference."
Assessments at these events include
the "Timed Up and Go" exercise, in
which participants sit in a chair, get up
and walk to a point 10 feet away, then
walk back to the chair and sit down.
The timed results can indicate a person's risk of falling. Information also is
presented from the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention's Stopping
Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries
(STEADI) initiative.


Devastating Impacts
Falls lead to a number of traumatic injuries, including head injuries and broken
wrists and arms. For people on blood
thinners, internal bleeds and even brain
bleeds are significant risks. However,
the most common injury among seniors
who fall is a broken hip.
Last year, more than 55 percent of
traumas registered at Salina Regional
among patients ages 65 and older
resulted in a hip fracture. As people
age, bones naturally become more
brittle, which can be compounded
by osteoporosis. Statistics from the

Tips for
a Fall
DExercise regularly to maintain
strength and balance.

DAsk your doctor about vitamin D

supplements to improve bone
and muscle strength, and get
screened for osteoporosis.
DBeware of medication side
effects that can make you feel
dizzy or increase your risk of
falling. Ask your doctor for
adjustments or alternatives
if you have concerns.
DWhen you get up from sitting
or lying down, pause and count
to five before taking steps.
Salina Regional outpatient
DRemove throw rugs and clutter
physical therapist Rob Clouston
from walking paths.
visits with Ginger Wright of
DKeep grab bars in working order
Salina after a fall assessment
in the bathroom and along
at the Salina Senior Services
Health Fair in May.
DHave your vision checked once
a year.
DKeep living areas well-lit and
install night lights.
DWear proper-fitting shoes with good support both indoors and outdoors.
Avoid shoes with slick soles.
DStore items you use frequently within easy reach.
DIf you notice dizziness or balance issues, ask your doctor for a referral
to physical therapy.

National Institutes of Health show
one-year mortality rates after a hip fracture range from 14 to 58 percent, with
the risk of death increasing with age.
"There's no question that hip
fractures are devastating injuries for
seniors," says Rachelle Giroux, trauma,
stroke and chest pain director at Salina
Regional. "Often recuperation from
these injuries immobilizes these patients
for weeks and months. This tends to
really weaken older individuals and
causes other health issues to get worse.
It can be the start of a downward spiral
for a person's health."

Mitigating the Risk
So why are the statistics for fall risk
worse in Salina and north central

Kansas? No one knows for sure, but a
number of factors could be at play.
"We could have a slightly higher
population of seniors who live independently," Aumick says. "I think it's part of
the Midwest mindset where people want
to live independently and do things
for themselves."
Using assistive devices like walkers
and handrails can be a big help, and it's
important to take care even at home,
where many falls occur.
"If you're at all unsteady or have
trouble getting out and about, you
really should be willing to ask for help,"
Aumick says. "Tasks like changing a
lightbulb or clock with a stepladder
could set you up for a fall that could
be devastating." 1

ASSESS your fall risk at


Health Beat - Fall 2019

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