Falls: A Leading Cause of Injury Among Seniors

Edmund Urquiza shared with Your Turn to Care how alarming it was to watch his mother take a bad fall while simply carrying a cup of tea across the room. He and the other siblings knew it was time to step in. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year one in every three adults 65 and older falls. The leading cause of death among adults 65 and older is falling, which results in broken hip bones. Yet less than half of seniors talk to their doctors about falling. []

Falling can be a sign of some underlying pathology or disease, such as a brain tumor or Parkinson's disease. However, it could also mean that an older adult needs physical therapy and exercise to improve muscle tone, coordination and overall fitness. Unfortunately, a bad fall can be the beginning of a serious decline in the health and well-being of an elderly person.

It is important to talk with your loved one about the risks of falling, especially if they suffer from poor eyesight, balance problems, or if they have trouble walking.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified steps to prevent falling:

  • Encourage your loved one to exercise regularly. Regular exercise, including programs like Tai Chi help increase leg strength and improve balance.
  • Ask a doctor or pharmacist to review medications, as some can cause dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Make sure your loved one has their eyes checked annually by an eye doctor and update glasses regularly.
  • As an individual becomes more fragile, living at home can sometimes be difficult as it becomes harder to get around. Identifying hazards in a home that can cause a fall is critical and can prevent serious injury.

To help lower the risk of a hip fracture, older adults should be screened for osteoporosis. Good nutrition and exercise--even just walking more--can help lower the risk for falls. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, low levels of Vitamin D are associated with an increase of hip fractures. Therefore, seniors should talk to a doctor about taking a supplement for calcium and Vitamin D.

Falls are largely preventable. Taking simple, preventative measures and encouraging an active lifestyle helps your loved one to be independent longer.


Photo Credit: The image associated with this entry was taken by Flick user Sterlic. It was used under Common Commons license.

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