The fall season officially began on Monday, Sept. 23.

That day was also Falls Prevention Awareness Day.

Tying the two days together might seem kind of funny, but falling – whether it’s down a flight of stairs, on a sidewalk, in your home or at your place of work – is anything but.

According to the National Falls Prevention Resource Center, one in four Americans aged 65 and older falls every year. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans.

Falls are also costly – in dollars and in quality of life, according to the center.

However, falling is not an inevitable part of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be reduced substantially, the center points out.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz proclaimed Fall Prevention Awareness Day or as described in the governor’s news release, “As autumn begins, leaves will fall, but people shouldn’t.”

The Minnesota Board on Aging is teaming up with the National Council on Aging to make people aware that falls can be prevented.

“Falls are costly – in dollars and in quality of life – but falling is not an inevitable part of aging,” said Kari Benson, executive director of the Minnesota Board on Aging. “We have the power to prevent falls through practical lifestyle adjustments, movement and exercise and help from health care professionals.”

The newspaper has a police scanner at the office and portable scanners that reporters monitor at home and it seems hardly a day goes by when ambulances are paged out to respond to a fall. Douglas County has a large senior population – 7,528 are 65 and older, according to the latest data from the state demographer’s office. That amounts to about 21 percent of the county’s total population.

Those numbers give an added urgency to preventing falls.

The Minnesota Board on Aging offers this advice to reduce your risk of falling:

  • Find a good balance or exercise program to build stability, strength and flexibility.

  • Ask your health care provider to assess your risk of falling.

  • Review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falls.

  • Get your vision and hearing checked annually.

  • Keep your home safe by, for example, removing tripping hazards, using bath mats in the shower, installing grab bars and increasing lighting where needed.

Minnesota offers a variety of community-based programs to help people reduce their fear of falling, strengthen their muscles and improve their balance. For information about these programs, call the Senior LinkAge Line, 1-800-333-2433.