Fall prevention can save your life

April 16, 2023

It's staggering to consider just how frequently adults and older Americans are affected by falls.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that each year, 1 in 4 adults 65 and older take a tumble, with 1 in 5 resulting in serious injury such as a broken bone or traumatic brain injury.

In fact, falls are the seventh leading cause of death among seniors aged 65 and up. But here is some good news – falls are preventable.

An astounding 13% of fall victims die within the first three months, with the rate rising to 24% within one year. We all need to act now to reduce the risk of falls in our older adult population.

There are several steps that can be taken to reduce falls, including regular exercise, setting up handrails in hallways and bathrooms, removing area rugs, cleaning up spills right away, installing bright lights in dark areas, placing non-slip mats in bathrooms and bedrooms, and setting up medical alert devices.

Medications also should be regularly monitored, as many drugs can cause dizziness, confusion, weakness and shakiness, and possibly lead to falls.

Falls can be devastating to those impacted, so it's important to take proactive steps to reduce the risk. Focusing on prevention and raising awareness can keep older adults safe and healthy at home.

When it comes to talking about falls, it is unlikely for older adults to report they have fallen, unless their healthcare provider asks. Many consider falls to be a normal part of aging, or they fear having a fall may lead to loss of their independence.

However, while many falls can be prevented by making changes in the home, other conversations need to be had with family members and with healthcare providers, including talking about how medications might affect a person’s balance, cause changes in vision, or lead to any sort of vitamin deficiency such as low vitamin D. Discussing what to look for in supportive footwear is also useful.

More than 50% of adults take one or more psychoactive medications that are known to increase risk of falls.

In addition to making changes at home, older adults can also work with a physical therapy team to improve their strength and balance in a supportive and safe environment.

Aquacare physical therapy teams can evaluate a client’s walking patterns, strength and balance to determine what exercises or adjustments can be made to allow them to move more confidently and safely.

To schedule a screening appointment, call Aquacare at 844-547-7432.

Melinda O’Bier, PTA, is an Aquacare physical therapist assistant with certification as a fall prevention specialist.




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