Falls are the leading cause of death among older adults as a result of unintentional injuries and the number of seniors who died from a fall has been increasing by 3 per cent each year (31 per cent overall) between 2007 and 2016 in the United States.
With an estimated 1 in 4 seniors over the age reporting a fall each year, the number of emergency room visits for falls may be a high as 3 million annually. Many more falls likely go unreported by older adults who fear they will lose their independence. Falls among seniors that lead to serious injury are often the cause of a move into assisted living or long term care.
The chance of having a fall increases with age but many of the risk factors are modifiable and older adults can prevent falls by exercising regularly to maintain muscle strength and balance, fall-proofing their home with grab bars, good lighting and removal of trip hazards and by checking with their doctor or pharmacist about any possible medication side effects.
The number of seniors in the United States is soaring as the baby boomer population ages and by 2050, the American population over 65 is expected to reach 83,000,000. And healthcare spending is nearly 5 times higher for seniors over age 85 than the national average of $7,097, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Fall prevention initiatives for older adults not only can prevent harm but may also provide some financial relief from the growing healthcare burden of an aging population.
Falls are not a normal part of aging and there a many things seniors, their loved-ones or caregivers can do to prevent falls. In addition to fall-proofing at home, older adults should have an annual eye exam and if walking is difficult, consult a physical therapist to see if a walker or cane would be advised. Look under the Toolkit tab on The Oldish home page for Home Safety Checklists, Medication Checklists and Home Safety Videos. The Oldish also recommends the use of hip protectors inside and outside of the home.
To read the full CDC report on death from falls among seniors over 65, follow this link to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.