One of the most devastating, debilitating and life altering events which can happen to an older adult is falling. Many people who are afraid of falling enter a debilitating spiral of loss of confidence, restriction of activities, physical frailty, falls, and a loss of independence and social interaction.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census
- 1 out of 3 seniors over the age of 65 yrs, and 1 out of 2 over the age of 80 yrs will fall this year
- Falls are a leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults
- Nationally, $29.2 billion a year is spent annually on treating older adults for the effects of falls
- Every 15 seconds an older adult is treated in an Emergency Departmetn for a fall related injury
- Every 29 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall related incident
Education is an important first step in increasing public awareness and helping to prevent injuries from falls. The number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced through community involvement, exercise programs and practical lifestyle adjustments.
Eliminating known fall risk factors is the first step to preventing falls for older adults. Here are a few:
- Physical Mobility – Increase strength, flexibility and balance with exercise and walking. Frailty is associated with weakness. An acute illness may result in weakness.
- Visual Impairment – routine eye exams helps reduce the risk of falling. At least every 2 years.
- Medication Management – When you are taking more than 3 medications, your risk of falling increases significantly. Review your medication list with your physician regularly. Take medication at the same time each day to develop a pattern. Carry your medication list in your purse or wallet. Store medication in a secure and safe place.
- Home Safety – There are easy ways of changing your home to make it safe from falls. Install handrails on both sides of stairs. Provide light at the top and bottom of stairways. Use night lights during evening hours in the bathroom, bedroom, and hallways. Install grab bars in your bath and shower stalls, as well as, on both sides of the toilet. Use a non-slip mat or safety decals in your bath or shower. Store commonly used items on easy-to-reach shelves. Put rug-liners, dual sided tape or non-skid backs on area rugs.
- Community Safety – Areas in your community, including retail and grocery stores, can become a risk for falls in a number of ways. Uneven sidewalks, pavement, and footpaths, as well as, slippery surfaces are a concern both indoors and outdoors. Play it safe by planning activities ahead of time, not in a rush. Wear safe supportive shoes and use a cane or walker if you need to increase your stability. Always, look up and ahead when walking outside. Create a system to check in with a neighbor or family member in case something happens to you while you are out-and-about.
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-Physical Therapist 32 yrs. with 19 years in private practice
-University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston,TX. -
Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy- 1982
-Post graduate Sports Physical Therapy Specialist --1987
-Inventor: Diagonal Rotary Patterning Machine, Patent 1988
-Lecture: on orthopedic injuries-nationally and internationally
-Co-author: for SPORTS PHYSICAL THERAPY
-Writer: for The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Self, Men's Health, Fitness and Prevention magazines