More than half of all accidental deaths among the elderly are due to falls.
The National Council on Aging reports that 35 percent of all Americans 65 and older fall each year. In fact, falls are the major cause of injuries in older people. Falls are also expensive: In 2015, the total medical costs involving falls exceeded $50 billion, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What Causes a Greater Risk of Falling?
Conditions such as dizziness and disequilibrium are symptoms that seniors tend to experience more frequently than other age groups. As people age, they may develop long-term physical conditions that impact their gait and balance. These physical conditions can begin to affect lifestyle and make it more difficult to exercise as time progresses. Without exercise, muscles weaken, and joints begin to ache. Staying indoors also lessens exposure to sunshine, necessary for the body’s own production of vitamin D, which is essential for strong bones. Environmental factors in and outside the home can also make a person’s risk for falls even greater.
Patients Commonly Treated for Fall Prevention
Older adults are the population most commonly treated for fall prevention and balance training. There are three major reasons why seniors are more likely to fall:
They may suffer from chronic health conditions like heart disease, arthritis, and dementia.
They may have hypotension (low blood pressure), which causes dizziness.
They may have age-related conditions such as vision and hearing problems, osteoporosis, and muscle weakness in the legs.
And yet, age is not a predictor for falls. Conditions such as dizziness, vertigo, and other vestibular issues in nature can and do frequently affect a younger audience. No matter a person’s age, most falls can be prevented with the right exercise program and other therapies that can greatly improve your chances of staying on your feet.
Here are some ways to stay safe and avoid injury
Follow an exercise program designed to improve balance, strength, and flexibility.
Talk to your therapist about obtaining an assessment of your risk for falling.
Have your hearing and vision evaluated each year.
Remove tripping hazards from your home, make sure your lighting is adequate, and install grab bars where needed.
Use walking aids like canes and walkers properly.
Stay hydrated. Dehydration leads to low blood pressure, which can cause confusion and loss of balance.
Talk to your primary care physician about getting referred for a balance and fall risk assessment to determine your risk and help you live a safe, healthy life. Imagine living without the fear of an accidental fall. Protecting life can be simple, painless and is covered by Medicare and most insurances.