Accidents can happen at any time. Did you know that the number one cause of accidental death in those over 65 is a fall? Forty-six million Americans are aged 65 or over, and that number is increasing every day! While Aging brings a variety of concerns, one that can be a life-changing event is also one that can be minimized.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four older adults will fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among older adults and are costly. They are responsible for an estimated US$31 billion in annual Medicare costs. But it is not about the money: The sad fact is that those who suffer a fall can lose their physical mobility, go into a hospital never to be discharged, require skilled nursing or other caregiver support, or become so fearful about falling again that they dramatically limit their daily activities1.
About one in four falls results in needed medical attention. Ninety-five percent of all hip fractures occur because of a fall. In addition to the physical and mental trauma associated with the fall, falls often result in fears about reduced quality of life, loss of independence, and social isolation. If the fall involves a severe blow to the head, this can trigger a stroke and speed up the onset of dementia, resulting in pain and sadness for the whole family.
Many things can cause falls; thus, the solutions must also include a diverse set of actions.
(Prepared by Dr. Robert P. Belin, M.D. ECCL Health Council and Chairman, Breckenridge Health and Wellness, and Allan Bowditch, ECCL’s Chief Communications Officer)
Outside the Home:
Report dangers you observe while walking that could cause people to trip and fall. Depending on where these are, you may need to contact
- Lee County, (if the department linked below is unable to help, the Village will often assist in getting you to the correct office that can help) https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/7d51036dfd3e4d7aa45e1ab21f915771?hide=field:problem_status,field:notes,navbar
- The Estero Village Council, https://estero-fl.gov/public-works-form/
- Your Gated Community management.
- Consider setting up a “Fall Prevention Committee/Group” in your local community to identify issues and seek remedial action.
Inside the Home:
- Secure throw rugs with tape or dispose of them.
- Provide adequate night lighting for bathroom trips.
- Address slippery shower/tub floors.
- Wear stable footwear.
- Install grab bars in the bathroom.
- Avoid clutter on the floors.
- Avoid floors that are slippery or wet.
- Avoid ladders!
Exercise and Balance:
- Most gyms can provide guidance on specific exercises and balance training, which can significantly help reduce falls.
- Exercise will also help to maintain and improve posture, joint motion, and postural reflexes, stimulating cardiorespiratory function2.
Manage your chronic conditions:
- Examine and discuss the side effects of your medications with your doctor.
- Ensure you take your medications as directed (dosage, time to take, with/without food, etc.)
- Discuss any drug interactions with your doctor or pharmacist.
Remember, handypersons are available at a bargain compared to medical costs!
- Before the Fall: How Seniors Can Avoid One of Aging’s Most Dangerous Events, Wellness, The Epoch Times, Marcia G. Ory Oct 23rd, https://www.theepochtimes.com/health/before-the-fall-how-seniors-can-avoid-one-of-agings-most-dangerous-events_2677395.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=GoogleDSA&utm_campaign=DSA_Web_Desktop&utm_adgroup=Health&gclid=Cj0KCQiAj4ecBhD3ARIsAM4Q_jElieR-2sZA8B3BhVdCiGddU1jMHcqU43znabs2qvoKgcqXk3swSL8aAmZhEALw_wcB
- The Second Fifty Years: Promoting Health and Preventing Disability. Falls in Older Persons: Risk Factors and Prevention, National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235613/