Advances in medicine throughout the 20th century have led to dramatic increases in life expectancy. People are living longer. The great public health challenge is to ensure that the quality of life stays vibrant and active: that people can continue to do what they enjoy, and remain healthy and strong throughout their lifetime.

However, quality of life in advanced age can be abruptly, sometimes permanently (or even terminally) altered by a fall. This threat looms large for everyone. The natural changes of aging can include slowed response time, reduced strength and balance, and more fragile bones. Not a good combination.

To help Islanders reduce their falls risk, the boards of health sponsor a public nursing program. Our public health nurse will come to your home to conduct a free fall risk home assessment: she will review your falls risk factors with you, including medications, assessment of your balance, and any hazardous conditions you can address in your home.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call Liz Sanderman at 508-957-7660, or email to set up a home visit.

Marina Lent
Vineyard Haven

The writer is administrative assistant to the Chilmark board of health. Oak Bluffs health agent Meegan Lancaster also signed this letter.