This time of year it’s enjoyable to go outside and see the leaves falling off of the trees in preparation for Winter. With the changing of the seasons, temperatures and conditions, however, it may be time to take stock of our ability to safely navigate in our own environments. Falls pose a significant risk of injury and death among the elderly in our society. For example, according to the National Council on Aging:
- One in four Americans 65+ fall 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 are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
5 Contributing Factors That Can Lead to a Fall:
Balance and gait. Gait and balance disorders are common in older adults and are a major cause of falls in this population.
Vision. Approximately one person in three has some form of vision-reducing eye disease by the age of 65.
Medications. Since drugs are a modifiable risk factor, periodic drug review among older adults should be incorporated in a fall prevention program.
Environment. Making modification in your apartment as removing all rugs, bright lights, and pathway obstructions can reduce some risk.
Chronic Conditions. having a medical history of stroke, CKD, arthritis, depression, and diabetes independently predict the risk of first-time falling as well as the risk of recurrent falling in older adult population while controlling for other factors.
The best medicine is to avoid falls altogether so here are some tips for Preventing Falls altogether:
- Enroll in an age-appropriate exercise program to enhance your strength, balance, and flexibility
- Fall-proof your home by removing tripping hazards.
- Care for your eyes and ears.
- Enlist family aid for physically challenging projects.
Are You at Risk for Falls? To see if you are at risk for falls we encourage you to take the “falls risk” quiz.
The best thing to do if you are concerned about falls is to talk to your doctor. He or she can recommend that you participate in one of our programs that Baptist offers for inpatient, outpatient, and home-based physical and occupational therapy.