As our parents age, we’d all like to see them continue the activities they love and enjoy independent living as long as possible. But did you know that helping them maintain that independence might just also save their lives? Although heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory disease remain the leading causes of death in seniors age 65 and older, would you believe that falling is the leading cause of injury-related death in this group? In fact, in 2012 and 2013, 55% of all unintentional injury deaths among adults over 65 were due to falls.1 Each year, one in three adults over 65 suffers at least one fall, and the likelihood of falling quadruples again by age 75.2
And while we can’t protect against every possible risk, the majority of falls can, and should, be prevented. The majority of falls occur while completing activities of daily living, especially when seniors have diminished physical capabilities but are still attempting the same tasks as before. The research of gerontologists Morse and Dixon indicates that 78% of falls can be classified as ‘anticipated,’ 8% as ‘unanticipated,’ and 14% ‘accidental’ (that is, attributable to outside factors).3
To address that whopping 86% of falls that are likely preventable and ensure our loved ones’ safety and independence, we need to understand those factors that contribute to falls in individuals over the age of 65.