The YMCA of the Capital Area is highlighting its programs to reduce older adults' risk of falling in recognition of National Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 22.

Each year, it’s estimated that one out of four Americans aged 65 or older will suffer a fall, leaving many adults with a fear of falling that can cause them to limit physical activities. This leads to reduced mobility and diminished quality of life and can increase their risk of falling, according to a news release.

As the population ages, falls put an immense strain on the health care system, with the financial toll expected to reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

The good news is that falls are preventable. With a focus on healthy aging, the Y is committed to helping older adults learn their fall risk and provide resources that can help them reduce their risk for falls.

The first step to prevention is understanding risk. Older adults can assess their fall risk by taking a simple test at ymca.net/fallsrisk. Through this assessment, individuals can learn how routine activities and other factors help determine their risk for falls.

After assessing the risk, the next step is to take action; the YMCA of the Capital Area is helping to improve the health and well-being of older adults across the country through programs such as Active Older Adults, EnhanceFitness and water exercise classes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests these basic lifestyle and safety changes to help reduce risk and prevent falls:

  • Begin an exercise program to improve your leg strength and balance.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines.
  • Get annual eye checkups and update your eyeglasses.
  • Remove clutter and tripping hazards in the home.
  • Put railings on all stairs and add grab bars in the bathroom.
  • Install proper lighting, especially on stairs.

For information about wellness programs offered by the YMCA of the Capital Area, visit www.ymcabr.org.