Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Death from Falls Can Be Prevented

https://twitter.com/BobbyMalevski/status/673535222554738688
In 2013, an estimated 25,464 senior citizens died from a fall.  Approximately 2.5 million more were injured.  Of those, 734,000 people required hospitalization.  Shockingly, one in three adults over the age of 65 will experience a fall every year and a significant of them will suffer serious injuries, including broken hips or head trauma.  Medical costs for falling amount to over $30 billion a year.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that these numbers may double in the next five years as our population ages.  In addition, falls are also a major reason for emergency room visits for people in the 45 to 64 age group, so problems are not limited only to those in the 65 and over age group.

Researchers have studied this problem extensively and they have discovered that certain programs are effective in preventing falls.  However, there is virtually no government support for these programs, which means they are not always available in the communities where they are needed.  When they are available, the programs are usually sponsored by local hospitals, community groups and agencies.

Even if you do not believe you are at risk of falling, accidents can happen to anyone.  In addition, you may have a spouse or other family member who could be injured from a fall.  Everyone should be aware of the causes and how to reduce the risk.

Why Senior Citizens Fall


There are a number of reasons why people fall, regardless of their age ... although the problems associated with falling are more serious in senior citizens.  Some of the more common causes are:

Arthritis
Inner-ear Problems
Diabetes - Particularly for those who suffer from Neuropathy
Illnesses that cause patients to feel weak, dizzy or shaky
Medications - People should be especially concerned about sleeping medications or those that lower blood pressure or cause dizziness


How to Prevent Falls


Fortunately, there are steps everyone can take to dramatically lower their risk of falling.  Below are some suggestions you can implement yourself.

Attend the CDC program called "Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths & Injuries" (STEADI).  Contact your local hospital or senior center to see when a class will be held in your community.

Attend a Balance Training Program.  Many senior centers and communities offer separate balance classes or include balance training in their yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, dance and other exercise classes for seniors.

Practice balance exercises at home including:

* Standing on one leg for 30 seconds at a time
* Walk heel to toe along a straight line on the floor
* Practice sitting and standing from a chair to build leg and core muscle strength

Eliminate or avoid danger zones in your home, especially:

* Potentially icy areas outside your home in cold weather
* Anything in your home or yard that could trip you -- wires, plants, furniture legs, etc.
* Loose rugs or carpeting
* Slippery floors like polished hardwood or wet floors in the bathroom and kitchen

Other ways to reduce falls include:

*  Installing grab bars in your shower or around your bathtub.
*  Giving up your high heels.
*  Having someone move items from high shelves and placing them where they are within easy reach.
*  Avoiding risky behaviors such as climbing on ladders or standing on chairs to reach high items.

Finally, watch your medications and read the package inserts.  Pay close attention to the possibility of falling because of the prescription drugs you are taking.  Many medications can lower your blood pressure and make you dizzy, especially when you first get out of bed in the morning or get up from a chair.  Take things slowly and make sure you feel OK before making any sudden moves.  Talk to your doctor about your dosage levels or ask about alternative medications if one you are taking seems to make you especially dizzy.



If you are interested in learning more about how to take care of your health as you age, where to retire, financial planning or family relationships, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Photo credit:   https://twitter.com/BobbyMalevski/status/673535222554738688

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