According to the CDC, in the United States, a person 65 or older suffers a fall every second of every day. Twenty-five percent of total trauma patients over 55 at Augusta University Health were hospitalized due to falls.
Those are just some of the surprising statistics about how dangerous falls can be for senior citizens in the Augusta area.
National Fall Prevention Week, taking place this week, aims to make sure those falls happen less and less. One way that AU Health is observing the week is through the first ever Parking Lot Bingo, taking place in rural parts of the Augusta metro area.
“With COVID, it’s been very difficult to get out and do any outreach, so we’ve put together Parking Lot Bingo,” explained Patricia Newsome, the Trauma Program Manager for Outreach and Education at AU Health. “We will have fall education material [on the Bingo cards]. We will have words instead of numbers.”
Examples of these Bingo squares include “slip-proof footwear” and “no flip-flops” among other fall prevention tips. Players can remain in their cars or in lawn chairs in front of their cars and will honk their horns when they get a “Bingo.”
Prior to the pandemic, Newsome and her colleagues were teaching an 8-week program on fall prevention called “A Matter of Balance,” and they hope to reconvene once the pandemic has passed.
The fear of falling and injury causes some older adults to avoid outings and other events. In the program the participants learn to view falls and fear of falling as controllable. Reducing that fear allows that person to remain more socially interactive instead of becoming more reclusive.
Newsome and her team emphasize that seniors should get daily physical exercise and make sure their homes have no waxed floors or poorly lit hallways, among other tips to avoid falling.
“Most falls can be prevented, if they just know how to do it,” she said.
Parking Lot Bingo will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22 at the Warrenton Senior Center; 10 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 at the Jefferson County Leisure Center; noon Wednesday at the Gibson Senior Center; and 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 25 at the Burke County Senior Citizens Center.