Don’t Fall for It –
Underestimating the impact of even a single stumble or fall can be more serious than you know
Nationally, falls are THE most common reason that people over 65 years of age go to the emergency room and are hospitalized. (source: National Council on Aging)
The team at Friends Life Care has an important goal. That goal is help educate older adults about things that they can do to thrive at home as they age. In addition, Friends Life Care has a special commitment to members, Friends Life Care is founded on the mission to help all members age in place and live the best quality life possible. This is why we have a real focus on fall prevention, identifying and helping outline actions you can take to address factors that could lead to a fall.
The facts about falling
Some people view falls as part of life and not something to worry about. It’s true people do fall, often without significant consequence. A toddler falls while learning to walk. An older child inevitably falls learning to ice skate or ride a bike. However, as one ages, a fall can have greater impact on many aspects of life.
Due to various health conditions and decreased lower bone and muscle strength, older people often have more debilitating outcomes from a fall than younger people. A fact – adults lose 10% of their overall strength and endurance and 30% of their muscle power for every decade after age 30.
Friends Life Care data reveals that 47% of falls with a serious injury are experienced by members who are otherwise well and healthy.
In addition, 74% of Friends Life Care members in this healthy category fall while walking – not on ladders or doing similar risky activities.
Falls certainly can lead to a bone break or fracture. But people who think of falls only in terms of fractures don’t have the full story. In fact, along with other physical injuries like a concussion or a back injury, falls can cause negative effects on many different facets of life. With or without an irreversible health problem, falls can still impact social and psychological health. And a fall can have adverse economic effects too.
Falls can decrease quality of life
Especially among older adults, a fall can lead to fear of falling. This in turn can decrease quality of life through a tapering off of activities and socialization. What may start out as not going to evening activities because of the darkness may evolve into not going out if there are stairs or too much walking and not going to events without someone to help navigate and ultimately feeling uncomfortable leaving home at all. This snowball effect can lead to decreased movement, depression, social isolation, long-term pain and decreased mobility.
“Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where you stand.”
(quote from Hayley Williams, singer-songwriter)
Before a fall with an injury, people may not realize the importance of addressing stumbles or falls that they’ve had which cause only a minor bump or bruise. “If you yourself think that: “It was just one fall – no big deal”, then you may not realize how far reaching the impact of a fall with an injury maybe be. The time to act is before another fall.
To reiterate, a fall causing an injury can commonly lead to decreased confidence, mobility and physical function, which increases the risk of falling again in a cyclical fashion.
Find out about the top causes of falls
So what do you need to know? The top factors that increase risk of falls include age, being female, history of falls and fear of falling. Up to half of falls experienced by older people occur due to environmental causes. Environmental causes are things like slippery floors (think of water on the floor in a bathroom or kitchen), poor lighting, uneven floors or sidewalks, clutter and improper footwear.
Think about your home and what you may be able to do inside or outside to reduce the risk of tripping and falling. Other risk factors for falls include health issues. Arthritis, vascular disease, COPD, vision problems, hearing problems, foot or leg numbness, poor balance and depression lead this list. Medications — especially starting a new medication that you may not be used to — can also increase fall risk. The highest risk classifications of medications are benzodiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan), sedatives (Lunesta, Sonata, etc.), antidepressants and blood pressure lowering drugs.
(source: Healthcare Intelligence Network, hin.com/blog/2013/10/01/infographic-top-5-causes-of-falls/)
Available resources for you
There are many resources available to anyone who wants to learn more. Find out about steps to take today to help prevent a fall and to fall-proof your home. Check out the resources listed below:
For More Information About Falls and Falls Prevention
National Falls Prevention Resource Center
Even a serious fall does not have to mean the end of living the life you want.
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