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The Villages
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Villagers learn about falls and how to prevent them during Neighbor to Neighbor Club gathering

If you’re older than 65, there’s a one in four chance that you’ll suffer a fall this year. You may get up without incident. But the National Council on Aging reports that annually more than 2.8 million seniors, following a fall, require a visit to a hospital’s emergency department, with some 800,000 having to be hospitalized.

Villagers and health care representatives hear about falls and how to prevent this leading cause of injuries to seniors from Ellen Dornfeld, Promise Hospital’s director of rehabilitation services. She was speaking at the at the Neighbor to Neighbor Club meeting Monday at Paradise Recreation Center.

Keeping Villagers from becoming one of those statistics was the goal of occupational therapist Ellen Dornfeld at the monthly meeting of the Neighbor to Neighbor Club, held Monday morning at the Paradise Recreation Center. Her presentation focused on why people fall, how to prevent falls and what to do when someone falls.

“The biggest reason for falls is because seniors get on ladders – whether to get into the attic, trim some bushes or change a smoke detector’s battery,” she said, adding it’s not usually caused by someone slipping, as most believe.

Occupational therapist Ellen Dornfeld, who serves as Promise Hospital’s director of rehabilitation, demonstrates how an adoptive device makes putting on socks much easier for seniors.

“There are numerous reasons that increase the risk of falls. These range from a senior’s use of a cane, poor nutrition or inadequate hydration, and certain medication,” said Dornfeld, who has been Promise Hospital’s director of rehabilitation services for five years.

The feeling of being “light-headed” also is a leading cause of falling.

“This is especially true when seniors wake up. Often this stems from their medications,” added Trey Hammond, administrator of Advanced Physical Therapy. “Often a consultation with their physician will prompt a change in dosage or time of dosage that then minimizes the problem.”

The presentation was initiated by Neighbor to Neighbor President Carolyn Willette. She said she had attended a meeting at Lake County’s Department of Health and asked Promise Hospital CEO Hoyt Ross how his staff could help Villagers before they need to go the hospital.

“He arranged for today’s program,” Willette explained.

Palak Gupta, left, health educator consultant with the Florida Department of Health, and Alyssa Smith, senior health educator, distributed pamphlets promoting their falls prevention program at the Neighbor to Neighbor Club meeting Monday at Paradise Recreation Center.

After falling, seniors are cautioned to move slowly to prevent dizziness. They should use support, such as a chair or bed, and then kneel on one knee before standing. And even if they don’t believe they were injured, they should call their doctor in case the fall was a symptom of a more serious problem.

Dornfield also demonstrated several pieces of inexpensive adoptive equipment designed to prevent falls at home, such as an extended handle that can grab items on shelves too high for ordinary reach and a simple plastic sleeve that makes putting on socks easier.

 “At the end of the day, seniors want to complete their task at hand,” Dornfeld said. “There’s no shame in using simple devices and incorporating compensating strategies in their daily activities. These practices certainly outweigh a senior’s loss of independence.”

Two members of the Florida Department of Health in Sumter County also attended.

“We recently instituted a community outreach initiative, ‘Able, Stable, and Well,’ that offers interactive presentations on falls’ prevention,” said Alyssa Smith, senior health educator, adding that club representatives in The Villages can call (352) 569-3120 for more information about no-charge educational programs.

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