Preventing Falls in Older Americans
July 30, 2020
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that every second of the day, an older individual falls. As such, falls are the leading cause of death (as well as the frontrunner for nonfatal injuries) for Americans who are 65-years-old and above. 30,000 senior citizens die from injuries they sustain from falls every year and every one out of five fall victims experience a serious injury. Many of these fatal and nonfatal falls are preventable, but only by observing certain safety tips and precautions.
Falls are a Threat to Public Health
The CDC considers falls as a public health concern because of just how prevalent they are among aging individuals. In fact, every one out of four adults age 65 and older falls each year. Some of the most common injuries associated with falls include:
- Hip fractures,
- Shoulder dislocations or strains
- Knee damage
- Head injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions
- Spine and/or nerve damage
- Broken bones (wrist, arm, ankle, etc.)
On average, 3 million adults age 65 and older fall each year. Women are more at risk for injuries related to falls than men are, and actually account for approximately three quarters of all fall-related hip fractures that occur annually. Other factors aside from gender contribute to increased fall-related risks too, such as having reduced mobility (or movement), impaired vision, reduced grip strength, and reduced strength in the lower extremities.
Four Ways to Prevent Falls from Happening
Despite what many people may say or believe, falls are not automatically a part of aging. Although older individuals are more likely to fall than younger people are, there are plenty of steps they can take to reduce their chances of this from happening. The CDC says there are four main ways that seniors can limit fall-related risks. They are:
- Exercise and train to improve strength and balance. Remember how having reduced mobility, reduced lower extremity strength and reduced grip strength are all factors that can work together in increasing a person’s chances for sustaining injuries from falling? Exercises (like Tai Chi) that improve a person’s balance and overall physical strength not only lower their chances for falling but also improve their confidence. Improved confidence can make a person less fearful – and therefore less likely to experience –fall-related injuries.
- Talk to your doctor about ways you can prevent falls from happening. Having open and honest discussions is essential. Be sure to tell your provider right away if you fall, worry about falling, or are feeling unsteady on your feet. Your provider should review all of your current prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications. Some medications can make people drowsy, sleepy, or even directly contribute to them falling. Providers may also prescribe vitamin D, which improves muscle, bone, and nerve health.
- Get your eyesight and feet checked. Your provider should check your feet at least once a year and should refer you to a foot specialist (podiatrist) if need be. If you wear glasses, update your lens prescription annually. Even if you do not have vision problems, an annual vision check is advisable to ensure you are not developing cataracts or a condition like glaucoma, which can impede your eyesight.
- Remove fall risks from your home. Get rid of all items known to contribute to fall risks such as objects on the floor (shoes, books papers) and small throw rugs. Install non-slip mats on shower floors or bathtubs and handrails and lights on all stairways. Some other ways to avoid residential falls is to keep items in easy-to-reach places to avoid using a stepladder or stool, and to wear well-fitted shoes (inside and outside).
Were you Injured in a Slip and Fall Accident?
Sometimes, falls happen because property owners fails to fulfill their legal obligation to remove slip, trip, and fall hazards that cause injuries. Slip and fall accidents like these can happen in a variety of places, such as private homes, workplaces, playgrounds, stores, restaurants, apartment complexes, parking lots, and more. In some cases, these falls occur in skilled nursing facilities, or nursing homes, due to a lack of supervision and proper care of patients. If you sustained injuries in a preventable slip and fall accident and want to learn more about your legal rights, someone at our firm can help. Contact a representative online now.
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