Despite fall prevention programs and a number of safety devices on the market, one out of every three seniors will fall this year. This is a staggering statistic, because falls are not only costly to your health but to your wallet as well. Falls cost seniors in the United States billions of dollars in medical expenses every year.
The Cost of a Fall
Americans paid more than $30 billion for healthcare after a fall in 2010. In fact, for seniors ages 72 and older, the average cost of a serious fall is $19,440, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This includes emergency room visits, hospital stays, and rehabilitation. According to the CDC and a study published in Injury Prevention, only about 78 percent of fall costs are reimbursed by Medicare.
Any fall can be costly: head injuries can lead to death or impairment, and fractures can lead to extended hospital stays and months of rehabilitation. And what begins as a minor fall can quickly become serious if you can’t get up. Almost half of all seniors have a hard time getting up on their own after a fall. This is an especially troubling statistic for seniors who live alone.
The medical community calls the time spent on the floor after a fall “lie time,” and it is a key factor in the seriousness of a fall. According to the World Health Organization, even a minor fall can lead to death or serious injury. A lie time of more than 12 hours significantly increases the risk of death and also exposes you to other complications. These can include dehydration, pressure sores, pneumonia, and hypothermia.
The Role of a Medical Alert Device
For most seniors the primary focus of wearing a medial alert device is for fall prevention. Sometimes, though, a fall cannot be prevented. This means it is important to consider what would happen to you after a fall and take steps to reduce your lie time. One good option is subscribing to a medical alert service and having a device nearby. This device could not only help save your life, but it could also save you a lot of money. Some medical alert systems have fall detection technology and can even send an alert automatically if it detects a fall.
Lying on the floor for an extended period of time after a fall can lead to serious health complications or even death. Not only do these complications require extended hospital stays and a number of medical expenses, but they can also take away your quality of life and independence. By being prepared for this situation, you can greatly improve your chances of recovering from a fall.