As we age, physical changes and health conditions increase both the probability of falling and the seriousness of resulting injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three adults aged 65 and older experience a fall each year, and falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among this age group. In 2013 alone, 25,500 seniors died from unintentional fall injuries, 2.5 million nonfatal falls were treated in emergency departments, and the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, were $34 billion.
While statistics show that men are about 40 percent more likely than women to die from a fall, rates of fall-related fractures among older women are more than twice those for men. Falls are also the reason for most fractures experienced by older adults, with the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand being the most commonly fractured body parts. Even those who are not injured in a fall are not immune from its effects – many develop a fear of falling that causes them to limit their activities. This can jumpstart a vicious cycle whereby limited activity leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, which in turn increases the actual risk of falling.
Hip fractures are the most serious and costly fall-related fracture. In fact, Medicare costs alone for hip fractures as a result of falls are projected to be $240 billion by the year 2040. In an effort to address falls as a national health priority, Congress passed the Safety of Seniors Act in 2007, authorizing a national education campaign for fall prevention and expanding grant opportunities for fall studies. A great resource offered by our state to both individuals and professionals can be found at nofalls.org. And next month on the first day of fall, the eighth annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day will be observed. This year’s theme is “Take a Stand to Prevent Falls.”
Falling does not have to be an inevitable result of aging. Decrease your chances of a fall by:
- Exercising regularly
- Reviewing your medications and their side effects
- Getting your eyes checked
- Using nightlights
- Wearing properly fitting, sturdy shoes with nonskid soles
- Removing clutter from stairs and floors
- Not using throw rugs
- Installing grab bars in the bathroom
- Steadying yourself with a cane or walker.
If you have any questions about this topic or believe that someone else’s negligence caused your fall, you can find out more by discussing it with the Pikeville, KY-based Johnson Law Firm. Contact us by calling 606-433-0682 or filling out our online form.