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Preventing falls among seniors

7/31/2014, 12:16 p.m.
Visiting Nurse Service of New York physical therapist Kathleen Lieu leading more than 100 seniors in exercises demonstrating the importance of staying active during the “Preventing Falls Among Seniors” seminar at the Carter Burden/Leonard Covello Senior Center July 22. The event was presented by VNSNY CHOICE and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and experts from VNSNY CHOICE, an affiliate of the not-for-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York, recently presented a free community health workshop on fall prevention for more than 100 East Harlem seniors at the Carter Burden/Leonard Covello Senior Program.

“With simple precautions, we can help prevent seniors in our community from enduring unnecessary, and sometimes life-threatening injuries,” said Mark-Viverito. “I’m proud to partner with Visiting Nurse Service of New York to help elderly residents of East Harlem protect themselves and stay safe in their homes and in their neighborhood.”

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Bill Dionne, executive director of the Carter Burden/Leonard Covello Senior Center, with Diana Ayala, deputy chief of staff at the Office of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Kathleen Lieu, physical therapist with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, at the “Preventing Falls Among Seniors” seminar at the Carter Burden/Leonard Covello Senior Center July 22. The event was presented by VNSNY CHOICE and Mark-Viverito, with more than 100 seniors in attendance. (Lorenzo Ciniglio photos)

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for seniors, with 70 percent of these falls occurring in the home. VNSNY physical therapist Kathleen Lieu provided tips and techniques for avoiding falls, like how to assess a home environment for potential fall hazards, how to choose footwear and ensure walking aids for stability and how to find local resources that can help seniors be more active in building strength and increasing balance.

Lieu shared some of the workshop’s tips on preventing falls among seniors:

• Staying safe at home: Use a home safety assessment checklist to review all rooms and outdoor areas; remove clutter on the floor; arrange furniture to widen pathways; keep commonly used items in easy reach; do not use step stools; and fix uneven surfaces.

• Staying safe wherever you are: Always wear shoes; use handrails on stairs; avoid wet floors and wipe up spills immediately; be sure chairs and other furniture are stable; check for adequate lighting; consider safety items such as grab bars, raised toilet seats, nonskid tub mats; and carry a cellphone or portable phone for easy access, especially if you live alone.

• Balance, strength and mobility: Work on strength and balance by being active; consider activities such as exercise programs, weight training, walking programs, tai chi, yoga and hobbies like bowling, dancing and gardening.

• Multiple medications: Review all drugs, even over-the-counter ones, with your doctor and pharmacist; always carry a list of your medications; do not share or “borrow” medications; know the common side effects for each drug; and remember to take medications as described.

• Most importantly, know your personal risk factors for falls, such as weakness in the legs, previous history of falling, cognitive impairment, dizziness, urinary incontinence, being older than 80 years, walking and balance problems.

For more information, visit www.VNSNYCHOICE.org or call 1-855-282-4642.