Did you know that one in three older Americans falls every year? Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for people aged 65 and older. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones and head injuries. And even falls without a major injury can cause an older adult to become fearful or depressed, making it difficult for them to stay active. The good news about falls is that most of them can be prevented. The key is to know where to look. Here are some common factors that can lead to a fall:

* Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility and balance primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.

* Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina making contrasting edges, tripping hazards and obstacles harder to see.

* Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.

* Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.

* Chronic conditions: More than 90 percent of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain or multiple medications.

Here are five easy steps you can take today to reduce your risk of a fall:

1) Most of us realize that falling is a risk, but don't believe it will happen to us, even if we have fallen already. If you are concerned about falling, dizziness or balance, talk to your health care provider who can assess the risk and suggest programs or services that could help.

2) Are you having problems managing your health? Do you have trouble remembering to take your medications? Are you experiencing side effects? Again, discuss this with your family or health care provider.

3) When was your last eye exam? Is your prescription current? Be aware that tint-changing lenses can be hazardous when going from bright sun into darkened buildings and homes. A simple strategy is to change glasses upon entry or stop until their lenses adjust. Bifocals also can be problematic on stairs, so it's important to be cautious. For those already struggling with low vision, consult with a low-vision specialist for ways to make the most of their eyesight.

4) Do you hold onto walls, furniture or someone else when walking? These are all signs that it might be time to see a physical therapist. A trained physical therapist can help you improve your balance, strength and gait through exercise. Perhaps a cane or walker might help. If so, be sure you know how to use them properly.

5) Do a walk-through safety assessment of your home. There are many simple and inexpensive ways to make a home safer. Here are some examples:

* Increase lighting throughout the house, especially at the top and bottom of stairs. Ensure that lighting is readily available when getting up in the middle of the night.

* Make sure there are two secure rails on all stairs.

* Install grab bars in the tub/shower and near the toilet. Make sure they're installed where your older loved one would actually use them. For even greater safety, consider using a shower chair and hand-held shower.

Annual bazaar

The 47th annual Finney County Senior Citizens Association Bazaar is coming on Oct. 19. This is a wonderful opportunity to do some early Christmas shopping. New this year is a Collector's Show and Sale. Tables are available. If you are a crafter and would like to sell your crafts, call Barbara at 272-3620. If you are a collector and would like to display your collection and/or sell part of your collection, give us a call at 272-3620.

Thanks for help

Many thanks to all the volunteers who delivered Meals on Wheels last week. Are you interested in helping with Meals on Wheels? Substitute drivers are always needed. If you would like to help, call Patti at 272-3620 or 260-6282.

Scheduled activities

Thursday, the TOPS Club will meet at 8:30 a.m., followed by art class at 10 a.m. Gentle exercises start at 11 a.m. We will look at school pictures from our earlier years. We will try to guess who's who. Bring a picture, get a prize. The Ambassador Singers will practice at 1 p.m. Skip-Bo begins at 1 p.m. The Senior Citizens Association Board meets at 1 p.m. Yoga begins at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, the day begins with line dancing at 8:30 a.m. A nurse from St. Catherine Hospital will be here from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Bridge starts at 12:45 p.m.

Saturday, the pool room is open from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday has duplicate bridge at 2 p.m.

Monday, we will have lunch with Dr. Dee Rupp. Join us at 11:30 a.m. Double pinochle begins at 12:30 p.m. Duplicate bridge starts at 7 p.m.

Tuesday has walking at 8:30 a.m. at Valley View Cemetery. Computer class begins at 9 a.m. Commodities will be distributed at 10 a.m. Gentle exercises begin at 11 a.m. Pitch starts at 12:30 p.m. Bridge begins at 1:15 p.m. Bingo starts at 1:30 p.m. The final Back to School for Seniors is Part 2 of Medicare education.

Sept. 25 has line dancing at 8:30 a.m. TOPS 1116 meets at 10 a.m. Library outreach is at 11:30 a.m. Pinochle starts at 12:40 p.m. Completely Unraveled meets at 1 p.m. The regular Wednesday night dance featuring the Moonshiners begins at 7:30 p.m. The recommended donation is $5.

Lunch menus

Lunch is served at noon.

Thursday: Barbecue beef, potato salad, creamy coleslaw, plums.

Friday: Roast pork with gravy, sweet potatoes, Italian vegetables, frosted lime gelatin, wheat roll.

Monday (Lunch with Dr. Dee Rupp): Salisbury steak, pasta salad with vegetables, tossed salad, peaches, wheat bread.

Tuesday: Hamburger, cottage fries, deli fixins, blueberry dessert

Sept. 25: Pepper steak, rice, oriental vegetables, angel cake and strawberries, wheat bread.

Celebrating 35 years at the Senior Center of Finney County. Check out our website at www.seniorcenterfc.com.