FALLS, THE IMPACT ON OLDER ADULTS
Falls are the leading cause of injury death among older adults (those 65 or older). Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are preventable.
WHAT YOU OR YOUR SENIOR SHOULD KNOW
The following information is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, but less than half discuss this with their healthcare providers.
• Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
• In one recent year, over 19,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.
• The death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade.
• In one recent year, 2.2 million non-fatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 581,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
• In one recent year, 82% of fall deaths were among people 65 and older.
• Men are more likely to die from a fall. After taking age into account, the fall death rate in one recent year was 46% higher for men than for women.
• Older whites are 2.5 times more likely to die from falls as their black counterparts.
• Rates also differ by ethnicity. Older non-Hispanics have higher fatal fall rates than Hispanics.
PREVENTION: WHAT SHOULD YOU OR YOUR SENIOR BE DOING?
• Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
• Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
• Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update your eyeglasses to maximize vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
• Make homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting.
• Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.
• Do weight bearing exercise.
• Get screened and treated for osteoporosis.
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