The following is a guest blog by Anne Markowitz Retch, LMSW and president of AMR Care Group. Anne can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 516.605.0434.
The Serious Issue of Older Adults and Falls
The Statistics are Staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) every year one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head traumas and can increase the risk of early death.
The problem persists. Among older adults, falls are the cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Out of 2.3 million reported nonfatal fall injuries among older adults in 2010, 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized. Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries. These injuries can make it difficult to get around or live independently. Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls-the most common fractures being of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand.
What these numbers don’t tell us is the ripple effect a fall has on families including their time and energy; dealing with a crises; losing time from work; and being overwhelmed and stressed with other caregiving responsibilities including children, spouse and other elderly family members. The list goes on.
Even when they are not injured, most people who fall develop a fear of falling which may cause them to limit their activities which lead to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, increasing their actual risk of falling.
The good news is that falls are preventable.
Older adults can stay independent and reduce their chances of falling by adhering to this list:
• Exercise regularly. There are numerous exercise classes for older adults at community centers, religious centers and schools. Balance is key here. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
• Request that medications are reviewed by a doctor, pharmacist or pharmacologist to make certain that a specific medication or a combination of medications do not have side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness.
• Check vision at least once a year.
• Make sure the home is safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars in the bathroom and railings on both sides of the stairways. Make sure lighting is adequate throughout the home.
• If walking becomes an issue request an evaluation by a Physical Therapist to ensure the older adult is using proper and appropriate assistive devices such as a walker or cane.
If you or a loved one is experiencing issues with falling and would like additional information on fall prevention, please call 516.603.0434 or email us at any time. We are here to help.