Mental Health Affects Your Risk of Falling

by Katheryn Howell, ISR Senior Director of Community Programs

Falls and the injuries that result from them contribute to a pressing health issue in our nation, our state, and our Island County community. Knowing that falls present such an issue in our community, Island Senior Resources joined a Falls Prevention Coalition convened here in Island County in 2023 and are active, proud members. 

Falls are not part of the normal aging process but are due to an interaction of underlying physical dysfunction, medications, and environmental hazards.​

As we age, our balance is affected and may increase our risk of falling, but it is not normal to fall! Throughout 2021 and 2022, falls were the leading cause of emergency department visits at WhidbeyHealth. A little-known factor related to falls is the impact of depression on someone’s risk of falling.

​Biological fall risk factors include:

  • Muscle weakness and reduced physical fitness​
  • Impaired control of balance and gait​
  • Vision changes​
  • Chronic or acute illness​
  • Physical disability​
  • Cognitive impairment​
  • Depression

Stay healthy and independent and check your risk for falls by taking a self-assessment (self-assessment provided online through the National Council on Aging):

Take charge today:

  1. Make an appointment with your doctor​
  2. Keep moving​
  3. Wear sensible shoes​
  4. Remove home hazards​
  5. Light up your living space​
  6. Use assistive devices
  7. Call Island Senior Resources at 360-321-1600 and speak to a specialist to talk through Fall Prevention activity programming happening in Island County

Disclaimer: This article was adapted from the presentation “Fall Prevention Physical Activity for Bone and Joints” by Senior Physical Therapist Michelle Clark, DPT, at Purchase Outpatient Clinic in Burke Rehabilitation Hospital. The original presentation can be viewed at the following link: Statistics from Island County, WA, have been added to increase relevance to the community.