Prevent Falling: Simple Tips That Can Help
Falling is the No. 1 cause of injuries and death (due to injury) among older Americans. An older adult falls every second in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In just one year, 29 million falls accounted for seven million injuries. This cost $31 billion in annual Medicare expenses, according to a new CDC report.
Fortunately, older adults can help prevent falling by taking action. Making lifestyle changes and taking a prevention program can help, according to the National Council on Aging.
“Falls do not have to be a normal part of aging,” said Kathleen Cameron, senior director of the council’s National Falls Prevention Resource Center. “Small changes can have a big impact. Get educated early and take advantage of the support available in your community.”
With more than 10,000 older Americans turning 65 each day, CDC officials expect fall-related injuries and deaths to surge. The fear of falling can also make things worse. By limiting activities and staying home alone, people become more out of shape. Some develop depression.
Fall injury rates are almost seven times higher for older adults with poor health, according to the CDC.
“Older adult falls are increasing and, sadly, often herald the end of independence,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Healthcare providers can make fall prevention a routine part of care in their practice, and older adults can take steps to protect themselves.”
The National Council on Aging recommends the following tips to help prevent falls:
- Find a balance and exercise program. Build balance, strength and flexibility.
- See your health care provider. Ask your primary care provider to assess your risk of falling. Be sure to tell them if you’ve had any recent falls.
- Review any medications you take with your doctor or pharmacist. Some medications can cause side effects that increase your risk of falling. Be sure to take any medications only as prescribed.
- Keep your vision and hearing checked annually. Update your eyeglasses. Maintaining your hearing and vision are keys to staying balanced.
- Remove any tripping hazards at home. Make sure every room is well-lit. Make stairs safe and install grab bars in key areas.
- Ask family members to help your efforts to prevent falls. Simple steps can help keep you safe.
Sources: CDC and National Council on Aging news releases
+ Learn about the balance and fall prevention program offered at Bon Secours In Motion Physical Therapy. The program includes a physical evaluation, a home fall risk assessment and prevention techniques. Some patients may benefit from specialized balance testing and treatment for peripheral neuropathy.