Did you know that almost 3 million older adults suffer fall-related injuries every year? According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fall facts, nearly 1 million of those falls results in hospitalization, while over 25,000 are fatal.
Other fall facts tell us that physical harm isn’t the only thing that comes from falling. There are high monetary costs, as well. For example, in 2015, $50 billion went toward fall injuries, with Medicaid and Medicare covering 75% of that amount.
Fast-forward to today, and we see the cost of falls continuing to rise. As a matter of public health and safety, and due to the rising statistics related to falls, seniors need more protection than ever. If you are an older adult or you have a loved one who is elderly, this guide will help you reduce fall risk, so you can prevent injuries.
Fall Facts: How common are falls in the elderly?
Studies show that falls are quite common among the older adult community. In fact, every one in four adults aged 65 and older experience a fall each year. What’s more, seniors are treated in emergency departments every 11 seconds as a result of falls.
Falls are responsible for fatal injuries in older Americans every 19 minutes, making the risk of falling potentially deadly. With falls being so common among older adults, the need for prevention is an absolute must.
How many falls happen at home?
For every 10 falls that occur, six of them happen at home, meaning a third of older adults living at home will fall at least once a year. This number increases among elderly adults living in nursing homes, which is nearly half.
Even more compelling is the fact that once a person has a fall, they are more likely to do it again. As the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, there is a serious need for fall prevention and improved safety for the elderly.
What is the most common cause of falls in the elderly?
There are many reasons why falls occur among elderly adults. The leading cause is aging and the conditions that accompany it, such as poor eyesight and hearing. Additional common causes include illnesses or anything that affects a person’s physical condition.
Moreover, the layout of an older adult’s home and how they have it set up can also play a role in falls. Inefficient lighting can interfere with balance or cause accidental tripping and falling.
Even medication affects the number of falls among elderly adults. Some drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, can cause drowsiness, thus increasing the likelihood of falls each year in adults. Studies have also revealed that older people taking four or more medications is more likely to suffer a fall.
Why is falling so dangerous for the elderly?
Due to the fragility of older adults’ bones, a fall could result in a hip fracture or other breakage. If an elderly person suffers broken bones in the right places, it could prevent them from moving to get help. As we age, our health deteriorates and our bones become fragile. This is why many older adults fear falling.
What percentage of falls result in fracture?
Fortunately, the majority of fall are non fatal. What’s more, they don’t even result in injury. That said, 31% of all falls do result in injury that requires medical care. Of all fall injuries, most necessitate restricted activity for at least one day.
These types of falls are typically injuries affecting minor tissue. However, between 10 and 15% of falls result in fracture. As mentioned, falls are the leading cause of accidental death. While severe trauma certainly comes into play, we can’t rule out other factors, like a hip injury.
If a senior breaks a hip, for example, it could prevent them from seeking help and getting the medical care they need. As such, broken bones caused by falling sometimes contributes to fatal injuries.
How can we prevent falls?
One of the best things older people can do is fall-proof their homes. Because such a large percentage of falls occur in the home each year, reducing the risk of falls can go a long way in preventing injury among older people.
Adding handrails throughout the house will help reduce the risk of falls among older adults. Extra caution must be taken on and around stairs. If you have trouble with mobility, don’t try carrying things while walking up and down steps. People with balance issues should use their hands to hold tightly to the handrails at all times.
Reduce Falls With Lighting
Since prevention starts at home, be sure to improve your lighting conditions. In doing so, you will be able to better see where you’re going and what kind of obstacles are in your way. Again, always make use of handrails any time they are available.
You may want to consider having handrails installed throughout your home, such as in hallways and in the bathroom. It’s also a good idea to do away with throw rugs if you currently have any in your house. These put you at risk of falling and are one of the many factors that contribute to falls at home each year.
Work to eliminate any tripping hazards throughout your residence. These include things like electrical cords and clothing. You may have to make some changes to your decor, but it will go a long way in preventing falls and unnecessary visits to your doctor.
Invest in an Emergency Response System
Depending on your age and health, you may need a medical emergency response system, such as those that are worn around the neck. If you have an accidental fall, you can simply press a button on your emergency response necklace to send a call to the national 911 hotline.
Don’t risk suffering from falls. Practice routine prevention in your daily activities to ensure your health and safety. You should also speak with your doctor and request any available resources to improve the prevention of falls. If the risk of falling is still high, there are plenty of senior living and in-home care options that can help you feel more secure than living alone.