More Seniors Suffering Fatal Falls

More and more older Americans are suffering fatal falls according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This is particularly troubling since, in most cases, these falls are preventable.

In 2000, 52 out of 100,000 people 75 years and older died after a fall but that number jumped to 111 people per 100,000 in 2016. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sheds further light on the fall epidemic among seniors.

  • One in four Americans over the age of 65 fall each year
  • Every 11 seconds an older adult is brought to the emergency room following a fall
  • Every 19 seconds, an older adult dies as the result of a fall
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among the elderly
  • More than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments each year are the result of falls, this includes more than 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.

There are several reasons that falls among the elderly are on the rise. Perhaps the most significant factor is that people are living longer. Further, medications that allow individuals to live with chronic conditions often increase the risk of falls as these medications can have side effects such as dizziness or loss of balance.

Even if a senior isn’t injured from a fall, there are still consequences. A fear of falling may cause seniors to withdraw from social situations and activities because they are afraid of getting injured. The results are depression, physical decline and social isolation.

Geriatricians recommend the following measure to prevent falls in seniors:

  1. Exercise: Incorporating exercise into a senior’s daily routine will help to prevent falls. It also will lessen the chances that falls will lead to injury or death. Twenty minutes of exercise a day is recommended for seniors with an emphasis on improving balance.
  2. Eye Health: Single-focus lenses should be worn when walking outdoors since bifocals or progressive lenses can impact depth perception when stepping off of a curb, for example.
  3. Remain Hydrated: Drinking enough water prevents dizziness. Frequent bathroom breaks also are important since rushing to the bathroom can result in trips and falls.
  4. Fall-Proof Your Home: Area rugs and clutter on the floor, including any cords, can cause stumbles and falls. Night lights also are important.
  5. Avoid Sleep Aids: Sleep medicines can cause dizziness in seniors so avoid these when possible.
  6. Invest in the Right Shoes: Avoid high heels, slide-in sandals and slippers. Shoes need to have a back and soles with good tread. Use a cane or walker when necessary, as well.

While falls many be common in seniors, the good news is that they also are preventable. The key is to be proactive to make sure that you or a loved one don’t become sidelined – or worse – because of a fall.

At Parsons House, we understand the importance of caring for seniors and their families. After all, if family members are constantly worried about their loved one, everyone suffers. To learn about our options for senior living or to arrange a tour, call us 402.498.9554 or visit us online at parsonshouseassistedliving.com.