One of the top reasons that we get calls or inquiries about assisted living is when families have an elderly loved one who has had a fall. Falls among seniors are unfortunately very common. It was recently reported in the news that falls are the number one causes of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among people aged 65 and older. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Now, falls can still occur in any environment but knowing what to watch for and having others looking out for you can help avoid potential falls.
Here are some key factors from the National Council on Aging to consider regarding falls:
- Balance and gait: As we age, most of us lose some coordination, flexibility, and balance— primarily through inactivity, making it easier to fall.
- Vision: In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina—making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles harder to see.
- Medications: Some prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can cause dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall.
- Environment: Most seniors have lived in their homes for a long time and have never thought about simple modifications that might keep it safer as they age.
- Chronic conditions: More than 80% of older adults have at least one chronic condition like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis. Often, these increase the risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.
Be aware of these factors and keep the dialogue open with your loved ones regarding falls and the issues related to them. Ask questions and be proactive if you notice changes in health and/or behavior.