Every 11 seconds, an emergency department sees an older adult for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans and can threaten their safety and independence.
The toll goes beyond bruises and fractures. According to the National Council on Aging, the financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
Sometimes, even the fear of falling can impair the quality of life for an older adult. In trying to be cautious, seniors may limit their activities and social engagement, leading to social isolation, which is also detrimental to overall health.
But as an older adult, you can take measures to reduce your risk of falling:
- Get involved in an exercise and balance program.
Enroll in a program that focuses on strength, balance, and flexibility. ElderServe offers Healthy Habits for Adults, a one-hour class that includes a nutrition lesson and low-impact exercises. Our Senior Center also offers exercise classes. Consistently improving your strength and balance will greatly reduce your risk of falling.
- Talk with your doctor about your risk of falling and medication management.
Tell your doctor about any recent falls and consider taking a risk assessment. Certain medications could increase your risk of falling, so ask your doctor if the benefits outweigh the risks or if there are other options. Make sure you take only medications prescribed to you.
- Get your vision and hearing checked annually and update your eyeglasses.
Make sure you can see clearly to avoid hazards. Hearing loss can also affect your balance.
- Keep your home safe by removing trip hazards.
Falls in and around the home are the number one cause of injuries in older adults. Read a previous blog of ours here, regarding making simple changes to your home. Some changes include ensuring there is ample lighting, removing obstacles, and installing grab bars where needed.
- Talk to your family members.
Communicate with your family if you have fallen already. You may want to be checked over by a doctor to make sure you’re not hurt worse than you thought. Ask for your family’s help in keeping your home safe and obstacle-free.
Falling is not an inevitable part of aging. By partnering with your family and medical team, you can make adjustments to protect yourself and reduce your risk.