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Fall is a great time of year to talk falls. Not just because of the obvious wordplay, but because changing seasons can lead to changing conditions in our environment — and that can spell trouble for our footing and our ability to stay upright.

Falls are a serious problem for individuals over 65 (and some younger folks, too). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some three million older people each year are treated for falls in emergency departments. One in five falls causes a serious injury, and more than 800,000 individuals are hospitalized annually because of a fall injury (most often head injury or hip fracture). Falls can also be deadly. From 2007 to 2016 the fall death rate in the U.S. increased 30 percent, according to the CDC — and if that trend continues there will be seven fall deaths every hour by 2030.

The stakes and statistics are dire, but the good news is there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your risk. The best place to start is right at home, where a few simple modifications can make your environment a much safer one. Scan your home for tripping hazards such as throw rugs, and make sure you have plenty of light throughout your living space. Consider adding grab bars to your shower or next to the toilet, and railings to both sides of stairs. Your local home care equipment store can help you assess your space and find the right items for you.

This is also a good time to take stock of your physical health, starting with a call or visit to your primary care provider. He or she can help you evaluate your risk and review your medications for possible side effects that could increase your risk of a fall. Also, don’t put off your annual eye exam — keeping your prescription current can help you stay on your feet.

Your healthcare provider also may recommend specific strength and balance exercises that can help prevent falls — or you can research options on your own (but be sure you have your provider’s OK). Some fitness centers and aging resource centers offer specific classes designed to help older folks avoid falls — and of course any approved exercise can benefit your physical and mental health, as well.

As the leaves begin to fall — and especially once the snow flies — use extra caution when walking outside. Consider investing in shoes with good traction or removable traction devices, and keep in mind a surface might be slippery even if it doesn’t look it.

If you’re reading this and not yet approaching your golden years, think of someone in your life who could benefit from this awareness and advice. Offer to lend a hand assessing home safety, recommend a healthcare provider check-in or encourage an exercise routine. Your nudge could help keep a loved one safe for years to come.

This fall, let’s talk about falls. Working together, we can keep each other active and upright.

James Mueller is an orthopedic surgeon at Bellin Health in Marinette.