Falls Are Leading Cause of Injury Deaths in Older Adults

Falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths among people 65 years and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Falls are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma among seniors.  

To put the scope of the issues in perspective consider this: each year one-third of older adults experience a fall, says the CDC.  15,800 people 65 years or older died from fall related injuries in 2005, and 1.8 million received treatment in hospital emergency rooms for fall-related injuries.

Assisted living and residential care providers know all too well how falls can impact the health, safety, and wellbeing of seniors.  Our challenge is to prioritize fall prevention measures in our communities and to respond appropriately should a fall take place.

The CDC recommends the following strategies to prevent falls in older adults:

  • Exercise regularly; exercise programs like Tai Chi that increase strength and improve balance are especially good.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines-both prescription and over-the counter-to reduce side effects and interactions.
  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year.
  • Improve the lighting in their home/apartment.
  • Reduce hazards that can lead to falls, such as rugs or other flooring issues.

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The unfortunately reality is that not all falls can be prevented.  Should a resident fall in your community, proper response by staff is essential.  Your priority after a fall is to prevent further injury by seeking immediate medical attention; this is especially important if the resident hit his or her head during the fall.  Review your fall response policies and procedures with your staff routinely.

Visit the CDC website for more information on falls:

http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/duip/preventadultfalls.htm

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