Happy Active Aging Week and Happy National Fall Prevention Awareness Day!
Some shocking fall statistics:
- 1/3 of older Americans falls each year leading to $30 Billion/year in direct and indirect costs. This amount is expected to increase by 2020 to $60 Billion/year.
- Falls are the leading cause of accidental deaths in persons over the age of 65. In 2010, over 21,700 older adults died of injuries sustained in a fall
- Falls are the 6th leading cause of death in the elderly
- Of those who fall 20% will requirement placement in a long-term care facility.
The prevalence of falls in the elderly is clearly established. The question now is why? There are many things that can contribute to falls from dizziness caused by vertigo or medication, decreased balance, strength and coordination, decreased vision, decreased sensation in the feet due to diabetes or other conditions and hazards in the environment.
So what can be done to prevent falls?
- Get some exercise! Find an exercise you like and will do consistently. Increased strength and balance will lead to a decreased chance of falls.
- Use a cane, walker or rollator if extra stability is needed.
- Remove throw rugs and ensure that area rygs are non-skid
- Keep items you use frequently within arm’s reach to avoid bending over and reaching
- Use non-slip mats in bathtubs or showers and install grab bars if more stability is needed
- Ensure there is enough light throughout the house
- Keep stairways well lit
- Use nightlights in hallways, especially if you often get up at night
- Choose closed heel footwear that is suitable for the weather.
- Have your vision checked and be sure to wear prescription eye wear if needed
- Review your medications with a healthcare provider. Some medications or combinations of medication can cause dizziness, drowsiness or unsteadiness, which can increase your chance of a fall.
If falls seem to be increasing or some on suddenly, be sure to consult your physician who can check for conditions may be easily dealt with or provide other tips as it relates to your personal situation.
Don't let a fear of falling limit your independence and your life!