Falls are the Leading Cause of Fatal and Non-fatal Injuries for Older Americans.

lady falling

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans according to the National Council on Aging. Falls threaten seniors’ safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.

 

However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments,evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

 

How bad is the problem?

 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • One-third of Americans aged 65+ falls each year.

  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.

  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.

  • One out of five hip fracture patients die within a year of their injury.

  • In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion.

  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

 

Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.

 

Good News

 

Most falls can be prevented. The key is to know where to look. Here are some common factors that can lead to a fall:

  • Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance— primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.

  • Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.

  • Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.

  • Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.

  • Chronic conditions: More than 90% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.

 

6 steps to prevent falls

 

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