Statistics on Falls and Injuries in the Elderly Community
Falling in your home can occur at anytime without warning. In fact, more than one out of four older people fall each year.2
Aging-in-place is an evolving concept that is becoming more common in the elderly community. As the elderly population grows, more seniors wish to live out their retirement at home. Unfortunately, most homes have not been built with this concept in mind, so it is important for older adults to be aware of injuries that can occur in the home and how to prevent them. Accidents, such as falling, are not an inevitable part of aging, but taking steps such as convenient lifestyle adjustments and participating in fall prevention programs can substantially reduce the number of falls among senior citizens.1
Here are some common causes of falling in the home, provided by the University of Washington Rehabilitation Research and Training Center:4
- Inactivity. Spending an increased amount of time at home directly leads to a greater lack of physical activity, resulting in weakening muscles.
- Living alone will decrease your social circle over time. It is important to be sure someone will be available if you slip or fall at home.
- Debilitated vision.
- Among wheelchair users, tips and falling over account for the majority of wheelchair-related incidents.
Loose footwear, such as slippers, lead to accidents in the home.
- Many common medications come with side effects and even more dangerous side effects when combined with other medications. Stay aware of fatigue or dizziness from medications, which can cause falls.
- Dehydration or lack of proper nutrition.
Falling in the home results in more than just physical injury, too. Unfortunately, medical bills and increased healthcare costs can reduce the ability to take care of yourself and your independence. A fall in your home can also lead you to become less active and sociable. Living in fear increases stress, anxiety or even depression, and having a small social circle reduces the amount of help you may receive if you have a dangerous accident.4
Thankfully, there are steps you can take right now to immediately reduce your chances of falling and injuring yourself. Take these easy steps to improve your lifestyle, physical health and your home environment:3
- There are many exercise programs available to seniors, which will help increase muscle strength and balance.
- Speak with your doctor regularly about how to prevent falling and other accidents at home.
- Always ask your pharmacist any questions you may have about your medication.
- Schedule annual checkups with your doctor, especially to review your vision and hearing.
- Observe your home to notice any tripping hazards. Remove any obstacles you come across, and instal grab bar in places you may need assistance with balance.
- Talk to your family and loved ones about safety plans and for additional support.
Here is a helpful checklist provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention you can use to safeguard your home and recognize any unforeseen hazardous areas. (http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/pubs/English/booklet_Eng_desktop-a.pdf)
- “Falls Prevention Facts.” NCOA. N.p., 29 Sept. 2016. Web. 23 Nov. 2016. <https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/>
- “Important Facts about Falls.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Sept. 2016. Web. 23 Nov. 2016. <http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html>
- “Infographic: 6 Steps to Prevent a Fall.” NCOA. N.p., 13 Sept. 2016. Web. 23 Nov. 2016. <https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/preventing-falls-tips-for-older-adults-and-caregivers/take-control-of-your-health-6-steps-to-prevent-a-fall/>
- Verrall, Aimee. “How to Prevent Falls.” How to Prevent Falls | Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Aging With Physical Disabilities. University of Washington Aging and Physical Disability RRTC, 2013. Web. 23 Nov. 2016. <http://agerrtc.washington.edu/info/factsheets/falls>