According to the National Safety Council, falls are a leading cause of injury-related death among older Americans. People over age 65 are more active than they have ever been and are living longer and healthier lives. This has allowed the elderly to live independently for longer than in the past.
However, no matter how healthy and no matter how active they are, falls are still serious and potentially fatal to older Americans.
A fall, even a minor one, can significantly impact mobility. Mobility is critical to maintaining healthy fitness levels. Falls are cyclical, they reduce fitness levels, which reduces overall health which increases the likelihood of another fall or injury.
Falls also impact the elderly’s coveted independence. After a serious fall most people may have to move into an assisted living care facility or with family. All it takes is a single fall to derail an entire person’s path into retirement.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in three older Americans falls each year. In 2013, 25,500 older adults died due to accidental falls. In 2014, 20,400 people died from falls in their home, the vast majority of which were elderly Americans.
It is estimated that around 2.5 million non-fatal falls were treated in emergency rooms. Of those 2.5 million, 734,000 were admitted to the hospital for more serious injuries.
The CDC estimates that over 250,000 hip fractures are reported every year. Falls account for 95 percent of those injuries. Hip fractures are incredibly painful and dangerous. Many older Americans die due to complications related to hip fractures. Moreover even for those that survive these injuries, they are plagued by the aftermath for years and possibly the rest of their lives.
Falls are not an inevitable by-product of aging they are preventable, with forethought.
More injuries are reported in the bathroom than any other room but with safety precautions the danger is mitigated. Non-skid mats, grab bars, railings and shower chairs are all affordable and sensible solutions to bathroom improve safety.
Clutter and furniture are another common cause. Re-arrange furniture in the living room to create clearly defined pathways, free from table and chair legs. Regularly sweep rooms to remove clutter from the floor. Empty boxes along walls or in corners are good places to temporarily store clutter, until it can be removed later.