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Falling Statistics For Seniors – How To Prevent Falls

By Bill Case | In Exercise, Fall Prevention | on September 9, 2013

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:

  1. Physical Mobility – Increase strength, flexibility and balance with exercise and walking.  Frailty is associated with weakness.  An acute illness may result in weakness.
  2. Visual Impairment – routine eye exams helps reduce the risk of falling.  At least every 2 years.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

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12 Comments to "Falling Statistics For Seniors – How To Prevent Falls"

  • bonyi says:

    October 29, 2013 at 11:21 am -

    Seem like you love elderly people and have started this blog for their safety. What we have to do now is to get them to have access to this great blog so that they can read this for themselves.

    1. theshaynee says:

      January 16, 2014 at 9:14 pm -

      Very much agree with you. I’ve recently started showing my grandmother all these posts.
      Literally all of them apply to her.
      This really is a helpful blog.

  • Celeste says:

    November 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm -

    Wow, $30 billion is a huge number. I agree with the home safety and everyone should be aware in helping keep their loved one safe from fall. I have always heard this is the number one way that elderly people get hurt so it is nice if you can prevent that from happening.

  • Brett says:

    November 3, 2013 at 9:16 pm -

    One senior citizen dies every half hour from falls! That is a surprising and terrifying statistic. I know I will be taking a look at safety around my house as there are some areas that I feel could present an opportunity for danger. Especially as cold weather and icy conditions in the upcoming winter months can aggravate and increase the potential for falling, I will make sure to keep updated on any additional tips you might have.

  • charlee felice says:

    November 24, 2013 at 6:48 pm -

    This is a very important subject. My mother fell and broke her right leg. It took her 3 months at a rehabilitation center. She could not be at home.

    It took a toll on her mental capacity. Her Alzheimer advanced as she was lost in her new surroundings.

    Great information for our most needy seniors.

    1. theshaynee says:

      January 16, 2014 at 9:12 pm -

      I’m sorry to hear about your mother. Is she doing better now?
      My great grandmother had advanced Alzheimer’s. She didn’t remember who I was most of the time. It was really hard and sad for my other relatives as well.
      My grandmother has broken her ankle recently (she broke the other one just last year). And it’s taking her a good while to heal too.

  • Fit4living says:

    December 30, 2013 at 6:44 am -

    Charlee Felice, that is so sad. I hope your mom is doing better, now.

    I’m glad to see the mention of getting routine eye checks. Because vision can diminish with age, it’s so important to schedule regular visits with an eye doctor. In addition to “senior-proofing” the home with handrails, etc., I think that eye exams and medication management can make a huge difference in the prevention of unnecessary falls.

  • theshaynee says:

    January 16, 2014 at 9:09 pm -

    Goodness!
    These statistics are really shocking. I had no idea about any of this.
    It does make sense though. I never realized how much of an issue falling was or how risky it was for older people until very recently.
    Almost every senior I know has fallen or is at risk for it. So this was really helpful for me. Thanks!

  • Sandro says:

    January 18, 2014 at 12:26 pm -

    I think eye exams should be done every year after you’ve turned 60. Going for a checkup every 2 years doesn’t seem that smart, but going yearly should reduce this risk.
    Installing grab bars is a great idea and can potential save seniors of many issues. I’m no senior and I use a non-slip mat in my bathtub. It saved my and my wife (especially her as she’s more prone to falling) many times so I highly recommend it.

  • Goodnight Alice | Keep Fit and Moving says:

    June 15, 2014 at 5:31 pm -

    […] HOW TO PREVENT FALLS […]

  • GemmaRowlands says:

    July 29, 2015 at 1:23 pm -

    The best thing to do is just to embrace your later years, and make sure that everything in your home is as comfortable for you as possible. Make sure that there is nothing that can be fallen over, and that you have bars in your bathroom that you can get hold of whilst you are using it. I also think that general mobility is a great idea – a lot of falls can be due to resisting using walking aids, when in actual fact they might be exactly what you need to get you back on your feet again. If you are careful, and take measures to make your home more accessible, you should find that you can avoid falls, and therefore keep your health as good as it can possibly be.

  • Diane says:

    August 7, 2015 at 9:01 pm -

    I’m thankful that my Mom is in decent health and has good medical care, but I still worry about her. She does a lot, and it’s good for her to be independent, but I’m still going to have the talk with her about falling, because she has mentioned dizziness, as well as dozing off while sitting in a chair at the table, and spilling her tea. I’m going to talk to her about sitting in a more comfortable and supportive chair, so there’s less of a chance of her slipping out of it, or being startled awake and falling because she tries to get up too quickly.

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