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.
What Conditions Make You More Likely to Fall?
According to research conducted by the CDC, the following conditions, or risk factors, contribute significantly to falling. But what’s really interesting is that many of these risk factors can be addressed and help prevent falls. They include:
- Lower-body weakness
- Insufficient levels of Vitamin D
- Difficulties with walking and balance
- Medications (prescribed or over-the-counter) that can affect balance and steadiness on your feet
- Vision problems
- Poor footwear or foot pain
- Home hazards such as:
- Unsafe steps (including broken or uneven steps)
- Trip hazards (including throw rugs, cords, pets underfoot, or clutter)
- Lack of handrails along stairs or grab bars in the bathroom
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. And the greater the complexity of these risks, the greater the chance that your loved ones could suffer a fall.
Expert Fall Prevention at Home
Awareness of fall hazards in the home can go a long way toward fall prevention and preparedness. But for the best possible protection, an in home fall risk assessment combines education and preventative action, with an expert eye for hidden dangers. The clinicians of the Residential Home Health Care Team can help increase awareness and promote safety in every area of the home, from careful medication review to selection of the right safety equipment for the kitchen and bathroom. With an expert assessment, you and your loved ones can learn how to keep pathways clear, improve visibility, and modify everyday tasks. Not only can this afford greater safety and more independent living for longer, but you may very well be avoiding dangerous or even deadly injury.
To determine whether you or your loved one might benefit from in-home therapy, nursing, or other home care services from Residential Home Health, call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click the image below to take our 60-second, 15-question Home Care Assessment.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths From Unintentional Injury Among Adults Aged 65 and Over: United States, 2000–2013 [online]. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db199.htm.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Falls among older adults: an overview [online]. [cited 2011 Sep 21].http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandrecreationalSafety/Falls/adultfalls.html.
- Morse JM, Tylko SJ, Dixon HA. Characteristics of the fall-prone patient. Gerontologist1987 Aug;27(4):516-22.