elder avoiding fall

Great Plains QIN is committed to empowering all older adults to age well and that includes avoiding falls. On September 18-22, 2023, we are partnering with the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to observe Falls Prevention Awareness Week.  Let’s work together to raise public awareness about the importance of falls prevention strategies.

Access the national FPAW Promotion Toolkit for valuable fall prevention resources.

Did you know that falling is NOT a normal part of aging? However, falls remain a leading cause of injury for people aged 65 and older. Falls threaten older adults’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. The good news is through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs; often times, falls are preventable.

CDC’s Injury Center updated state maps showing self-reported older adult falls and fall deaths with the most recent data.

North Dakota (2020)
Percent of older adults who reported a fall – 26%
Number of older adults who fell – 30,870

South Dakota (2020)
Percent of older adults who reported a fall – 34%
Number of older adults who fell – 48,809

Leacey Brown Photo“People tend to believe falls are a normal part of getting older. Falls are devastating to individuals and families. When an individual experiences a fall, it has a domino effect on their quality of life,” explained Leacey Brown, MS, chair of the South Dakota Falls Prevention Coalition. “Beyond the challenges from recovering from the falls, older adults who have experienced a fall often develop a fear in falling again.””

She continued, “There is also a misplaced belief that reducing the level of physical activity will prevent a fall. What we know is lack of physical activity increases the risk of a fall and contributes to a vicious cycle.”

We are fortunate to have programs and resources in the Dakotas to help with fall prevention.

South Dakotans have access to multiple programs proven to reduce falls by building strength, balance and flexibility.

In North Dakota, three intervention programs are being offered by the NDSU Extension:

  1. Stepping On, an evidence-based falls prevention program. Designed for community-dwelling older adults who have concerns about falls, and/or had prior falls. This 7-week program helps older adults take control of their fall risk, explore coping behaviors, and use safety strategies in everyday life to stay independent and active.
  2. Tai Ji Quan – Moving for Better Balance-This 12-week helps participants improve their strength, balance, mobility, and functional capacity through mindful therapeutic movements.
  3. Fit & Strong-An exercise and behavior change program for older adults or those with lower extremity osteoarthritis. This 12-week program has demonstrated significant functional improvements in participants.

Access the Livable Homes: Evaluating Our Homes for Comfort, Safety and Independence Checklist.

The impact of falls on older adults’ health and well-being cannot be underestimated, with injuries often leading to serious consequences. However, through collaborative efforts from communities, healthcare professionals, and individuals, we can make a difference. By raising awareness and promoting preventive measures during Falls Prevention Week (and throughout the year), we empower older Americans to maintain their independence, stay active and enjoy a higher quality of life.

North Dakota Stepping On Program: Facilitator Training Opportunity

Stepping On is an evidenced-based falls prevention program for community-dwelling individuals aged 60 and older. It helps older adults take control of their fall risk, explore coping behaviors and use safety strategies in everyday life. A trained facilitator leads the 7-session (2 hours per session) workshop that meets every week, plus one booster session. If you are interested in joining the network of North Dakota Stepping On Facilitators, consider attending a facilitator training.

November 7-9, 2023
North Central Research Extension Center (NCREC)
5400 Highway 83 S, Minot, ND 58701
Master Trainers: Nancy Bryn and Ellen Bjelland

There is no cost for 2 and 1/2-days training. Reimbursement is available for mileage, lodging and meals. Facilitators are provided extensive support in delivering this highly effective workshop for adults 60 and older who have fallen or have a fear of falling. Access additional details regarding the facilitator training.