They’re the #1 cause of injuries in older adults – and preventable

womansittingA common risk for older adults is accidental falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four adults aged 65 and older report falling each year.

Worse, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults. Up to 30 percent of those who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries — including hip fractures, lacerations and head traumas — that can reduce mobility and independence, and even increase the risk for premature death.

What are some common risk factors?

  • Environmental — Uneven pavement or slippery surfaces
  • Medical — Poor vision and impaired hearing, joint and foot problems, and nervous system disorders
  • Medications — Blood pressure medications, sedatives, antidepressants and diabetes medications

What can you do to decrease your fall risk?

  • Remove tripping hazards from stairs and walkways
  • Install handrails and lights on staircases
  • Walk carefully and watch where you step
  • Install grab bars and non-slip mats in the bathtub and shower

What should you do in case of a fall?

Most falls result in bumps and bruises that can be managed at home. But if swelling, discoloration, severe pain and/or difficulty with walking occur, this may indicate a fracture, which requires immediate medical care. If you are not walking normally after a fall or can’t touch an area that was injured, you need to be seen by a doctor.

If the person who has fallen becomes unconscious, or there is concern for a neck injury, do not attempt to move that person. Instead, call 911 immediately.