Tripping and falling happens from time to time but senior citizens (65 and older) are more likely to fall and to become injured from the fall. Every year, millions of adults aged 65 and older fall, causing moderate to severe injuries including hip fractures and head traumas. A hard fall can increase the risk of premature death. Sadly, death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade.
Senior Fall Statistics
- In 2012, $30 billion dollars was spent on the direct medical costs of falls.
- One out of every three senior citizens experiences a fall each year but less than half report the fall to their doctor.
- Among senior citizens, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries.
- In 2012, 2.4 million senior adults were treated for non-fatal falls in emergency departments. More than 722,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
Health Risks from Falls
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
- Almost half of fatal falls among older adults are due to TBI.
- Up to thirty percent of falls cause serious injuries including hip fractures, lacerations, and head traumas. Serious injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
- Most of the time, when a senior experiences a fracture it is from falling. The most common fractures are to the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
- Many times a person who falls develops a fear of falling again which may cause them to limit physical activity. Sadly, decreased physical activity weakens the muscular-skeletal system and actually increases the risk of falling.
- In 2011, approximately 22,900 senior adults died from unintentional fall injuries.
- Men are at greater risk of dying from a fall than women. After controlling for age, the fall death rate in 2011 was 41 percent higher for men than for women.
- Senior women are twice as likely as senior men to experience a fracture from a fall.
- People 75 years and older who experience a fall are four to five times more likely than those aged 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls. In 2010, there were 258,000 hip fractures from falls.
Fall Prevention Tips
- Regular exercise, particularly activities that increase leg strength and balance can help prevent a fall. Tai Chi or other weight bearing exercises are a great way to built lower body strength and balance.
- Get plenty of calcium and vitamin D from food and/or supplements.
- Get screened and treated, if needed, for osteoporosis.
- Have a doctor or pharmacist analyze all medicines taken, including prescription and over the counter, to identify any that could cause side effects or interactions like dizziness or drowsiness.
- Seniors should have their eyes checked by an optometrist annually to check for overall eye health and ensure that their prescription is up to date. It might be a good idea to get a pair of glasses with single vision lenses for distance only for walking outside.
- Remove tripping hazards from in and around the home.
- Add grab bars to walls for getting in and out of the bathtub or shower and using the toilet.
- Add railings to both sides of stairways.
- Ensure adequate lighting inside and outside of the home.
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