Crossroads and passages come big and small – whether we are aware of their coming or going, they do exist in our lives. There are T’s or Y’s in the road where we make choices and have the consequences of our choices. Decisions are made or made for us and we need to be aware of how these will make an impact. Sometimes we are unclear that this direction has even been taken until we get so far along the road. We often wish we had had more information at that time, that we were able to discern the situation better.
This may be a dramatic introduction to a subject that doesn’t typically have a lot allurement but the issue of “falling” is to be taken very seriously. In my work as a geriatric care-manager I have seen a simple fall and a broken hip be the beginning of the end. I am here to give you the information that you need now, before you hit the Y in the road, to help you and your loved ones make better decisions.
The Facts on Falls
I think you will be startled by the facts! According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
- Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
- In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.
- In 2010, the direct medical costs of falls, adjusted for inflation, was $30.0 billion.
Falls and Older Adults – Serious Outcomes
- Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).7 In 2000, TBI accounted for 46% of fatal falls among older adults.3
- Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls.8 The most common are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand and wrist.
I am very lucky to have an extremely healthy mother at the age of 68. When she started falling a few years ago it didn’t add up. She has shared that she lost her balance and “edge” around the age of 50. Ever since then it has been an increasingly difficult job to keep strong and agile. Biking, paliates, and gardening all seem to be doing the trick. Although, she has shared the most important difference has been to get out of cute sexy shoes. Firm sensible shoes with flat heals that fit properly have made the difference.
A few factors that contribute to higher fall risk:
- Apprehension of falling
- Using walking tools improperly
- Shuffling or pore gate
- Shoes that don’t fit well or don’t have a sturdy flat heal
- Hazards that create tripping
How to reduce fall risk:
- Take a home safety evaluation
- Have the use of walkers or canes evaluated by a professional for safe usage
- Look for areas of issue that a grab bar may be mounted for assistance, i.e.bathrooms
- Evaluate the home for tripping hazards:throw rugs, animals, children’s toys
- Look into an occupational therapist for a home safety assessment and they will offer helpful suggestions
- Look into senior programs offered in your area that will support mobility and balance
- Improve core strength through hiring a physical therapist or a personal trainer
Especially as caregivers we need to be cautious of the ramifications of falling, for ourselves and for those that depend on us. Our lives can very quickly take a left turn if those we care for become further incapacitated. I hope there were a few ideas that were helpful here. Please share with us in the comment section below…