Start with this ….If you had to guess what the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in older Americans is, you might guess it’s something like automobile accidents. And if we were talking about all Americans – not just those over 65 –you’d be right.
But according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), it’s falls, with 1 in 4 over the age of 65 falling each year.
The fact that 1 in 4 people over the age of 65 fall each year isn’t the most startling statistic, however. The NCOA goes on to report that:
- An older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall every 11 seconds.
- Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
- Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments each year.
- Each year, over 800,000 people are hospitalized due to falls.
- More than 27,000 people die from falls or fall-related injuries annually.
And though the risk factors for falls increase with age – medications that can affect balance, decline in muscle strength or deteriorating vision – falling does not have to be an inevitable part of getting older. With the right precautions and practical lifestyle adjustments, the risk of falls can be significantly reduced.
…And What Isn’t in the Statistics.
It’s unfortunate, but for many people, the first fall can mean the beginning of a loss of independence. In an effort to be more careful, they may avoid leaving home or taking part in activities they may have enjoyed before the fall. While well-intentioned, this loss of independence can have a serious impact on quality of life: people who once had active and healthy lifestyles become sedentary, which can exacerbate other health issues and concerns.
For anyone looking to reduce their fall risk, safety should be a top priority. But not far behind that, maintaining independence and an active, good quality of life should also be considered.
How to Reduce Falls and Maintain Independence
The good news is that there are quite a few quick and easy things you can do to reduce fall risk around the home:
- Inspecting the home to make sure there are no tripping hazards like extension cords, throw rugs that aren’t secured with double sided tape, or other items like books, shoes or boxes lying on the floor.
- Rearrange furniture so you don’t have to walk around furniture to move around the home.
- Ensure the home is well lit. With declining vision, brighter lights may be needed to safely navigate the home.
- Use a rubber mat in the shower or tub to increase traction.
- Make sure the path from the bed to the bathroom is clear.
Ask Dr. Antonius Su on your next visit on how to get Balance Brace to improve your balance and to reduce the risks of falling