You just received a call that Great Aunt Mary experienced a fall in her home over the weekend and has been admitted to the hospital to assess for possible injuries. How did this happen?
New studies show increase of falls in older adults in the U.S., despite prevention efforts (https://www.hpnonline.com/surgical-critical-care/article/21257986/more-adults-are-falling-every-year-despite-prevention-efforts). Data shows that the numbers of incidents have been increasing by 1.5% each year. Falls affect 4.5 million older adults in the U.S. and cost Medicare $15 billion to $30 billion annually. Another startling statistic, falls among adults 65 and older caused over 34,000 deaths in 2019, making it the leading cause of injury death for that group.
What kind of damage happens after a fall?
Injuries related to falls include head injury, soft tissue injury, and rotator cuff injury. In 2019, the emergency department recorded 3 million visits for older adult falls. One of the most serious fall injuries is a broken hip. It is hard to recover from a hip fracture and afterward many people are not able to live on their own. As the U.S. population gets older, the number of hip fractures is likely to go up.
- Each year over 300,000 older people—those 65 and older—are hospitalized for hip fractures.
- More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
- Women experience three-quarters of all hip fractures.
- Women fall more often than men.
- Women more often have osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break.
- The chances of breaking your hip go up as you get older.
What could be causing the increase in falls among the elderly?
Unfortunately it’s not immediately clear why the numbers are increasing. A Johns Hopkins Medicine study shows that impairment to the inner ear was linked to 50% of falls in patients with Alzheimers. Other causes could be poor eyesight, medications, illnesses and other physical conditions that affect balance, and household safety hazards.
What can you do to prevent falls for yourself or an elderly loved one?
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do. Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about taking vitamin D supplements
- Get screened for osteoporosis and treated if needed.
- Don proper footwear
- Check your home for safety hazards such as throw rugs, poor lighting, pets, unstable chairs or tables, extension cords, and toilet seats being too low.
- Check out our Fall Prevention products. Receive a 10% discount through April 28th when using the code Donotfall10
By educating yourself on how falls occur and assessing your or your loved one’s specific situation to prevent injuries, you could possibly prevent becoming one of these many shocking statistics. Need help determining the most appropriate products to use in your home to prevent falls? Legacy Medical Sales is a call away at 1-800-446-7310, we can provide a customized solution to keep you and your family safe.