As a UCLA Center for Health Policy Research report shows, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors in both California and in the US. Here’s a closer look at the facts about seniors and falls, and a few tips for fall protection.
Comparing Fall Facts
According to the UCLA report, 12.6 percent of elder Californians fell in 2011-2012. The report makes it clear that falls are dangerous for all seniors — and that they’re far too common. Here are a few facts:
- Over 185,000 elder Californians visited the ER for fall-related injuries and nearly 72,000 of them were admitted to the hospital.
- The annual medical costs due to fall-related injuries are over $2 billion in California.
- Many seniors failed to report falls to their healthcare providers.
Many of the personal and economic burdens resulting from falls are preventable. By learning the right fall prevention techniques, you can help maintain your independence. There are also a number of technologies that you can incorporate into your fall prevention routine: The Philips HomeSafe and GoSafe medical alert systems with AutoAlert, for instance, automatically detect falls and can call for help if falls are detected.1
Older adults have access to a wealth of information on fall protection. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking fall-prevention precautions such as eating a diet that includes enough calcium and Vitamin D, and being screened for osteoporosis. The CDC also recommends several fall protection strategies. Among these are the following:
- Review medications with your pharmacist or physician and identify those that have side effects — dizziness or drowsiness, for instance — that could make you prone to falls. It’s possible that a medication with less risky side effects could be an appropriate substitute.
- Check your hearing and vision routinely. It’s no surprise that poor vision increases the risk of falls. Hearing loss is dangerous, especially if you can’t hear a sounding alarm.
- Stay in shape by eating a healthy diet and staying active. Exercises improving balance and weight-bearing capacity are especially useful.
- Make your home a safer place by improving lighting, eliminating trip hazards and adding railings and grab bars in bathrooms and stairs.
No matter your age or where you call home, it’s important that you incorporate fall prevention methods into your life, educate yourself on how to get up from a fall, and reverse the dangerous statistical relationship between seniors and falls. By keeping active and incorporating the help of medical alert devices, you can help yourself stay safe.