Avoid falls (but don’t avoid telling your family or doctor about them)
- The greatest predictor of a fall is a prior one, usually within 3 months.
- Many elders do not report falls, and then develop a fear of falling that limits activities. This, in turn, diminishes muscle mass and strength, leading to deteriorating mobility that further restricts activity.
- Women are at higher risk for functional disabilities that impact mobility, leading to bones and muscles losing strength, and that result in falls or other accidents. This also accelerates the decline of other abilities.
- Doctors may be unaware that a patient has fallen because many are reluctant to report a fall in fear of being restricted in their activities, having to use a cane or walker, or having to leave their home.
- Knowledge of fall prevention in home health care is limited, and many handymen and builders are not trained about how age, balance, disability and vision changes over time can affect individual health and mobility.
All falls are not caused by the living environment
- While falls among the elderly rarely have a single cause, risk factors include dizziness due to a medication.
- Changes in physical health may lead to slower reflexes, making it difficult to maintain balance or regain it following a fall.
When we know the location of a fatal fall injury:
- 59% occurred at home
- 19% in a nursing home
- 3% on a street
- 3% in a hospital.
Fall Statistics – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Of those 65 and older, 1 in 3 fall each year, with less than half reported to a family member or a medical provider.
- Of those aged 70 and older, 90% of falls result in broken hips, with only half regaining their level of mobility prior to the accident.
- By age 75, falls are the greatest cause of fatal injuries.
- Rates of fall-related fractures among older women are more than twice those for men.
- Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.
- Men are more likely than women to die from a fall. After taking age into account, the death rate is 34% higher for men than for women.
- 40% of admissions to nursing homes are fall related.
- Falls are more common that strokes.
- 20-30% of falls result in moderate to severe injuries such as cuts, hip fractures, or head trauma, making it difficult to live independently or get around easily, subsequently increasing the risk of early death.
- Falls are the most preventable cause of needing nursing home placement.
- Of those hospitalized for a hip fracture, 40% never return home or live independently again, and 25% die within one year.
- Many falls can be prevented if a home safety assessment is performed and acted on.