According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.
However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.
So here’s the CHALLENGE:
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- 1/4 of Americans aged 65+ falls each year
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults
- Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 850,000 hospitalizations and more than 29,000 deaths
- In 2015, the total cost of fall injuries was $50 billion
- The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear of falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
BUT…many falls are preventable. Here are 6 steps to stay safe:
- Find a good balance and exercise program. Look to build balance, strength, and flexibility. Contact your local Area Agency on Agency for referrals. Find a program you like and take a friend.
- Talk to your health care provider. Ask for an assessment of your risk of falling. Share your history of recent falls.
- Regularly review your medications with your doctor or pharmacist. Make sure side effects aren’t increasing your risk of falling. Take medications only as prescribed.
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses. Your eyes and ears are key to keeping you on your feet.
- Keep your home safe. Remove tripping hazards, increase lighting, make stairs safe, and install grab bars in key areas.
- Talk to your family members. Enlist their support in taking simple steps to stay safe. Falls are not just a seniors’ issue.
To learn more about falls prevention and for additional resources click here.
All information in this post is from the National Council on Aging. www.ncoa.org.