It is a commonplace for the elderly to worry about falling, but they have good reason to worry. According to a recent story in the New York Times, the most common reason for the death of the elderly is “complications from a fall.” This translates into the death of an elderly person every 19 minutes.
Millions of elderly people 65 and older fall each year, whether it is because of an unseen hazard when walking or a wet floor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is a real need for concern involving falls by the elderly:
- Falling a first time doubles the chances of it happening again
- The elderly are less able to physically and emotionally recover from the injuries
- Over 25 percent of individuals 65 or older fall each year
- 20 percent of those falls result in serious injuries
- Less than half of those who fall tell their doctor
Why the elderly fall
Many factors increase the chances of falling. These include:
- Medical or orthopedic problems
- Medications that cause loss of balance or drowsiness
- Declines involving the senses, particularly vision
- Lack of body awareness
- Pain that distorts body movements
Avoiding a fall takes vigilance at home
Older individuals can take measures to reduce their chances of falling. These include:
- Regular exercise to increase leg strength and improve balance
- Install railings on stairways and use them
- Keep your living space clutter-free, particularly the high traffic areas
- Check with your doctor to make sure medication dosages are not too high
Outside the home
While businesses and services that cater to the elderly often take many safety precautions, local restaurants and busy big box stores may not be accommodating. It is crucial to recognize hazards, but this will not always be possible, which can lead to falls.
Those injured should seek medical help immediately. It is also a good idea to speak with a personal injury attorney when injured outside the home. Unfortunately, not everyone is conscientious about keeping the property free of hazards and well maintained, so a knowledgeable attorney may be necessary for individuals who fall to seek the compensation they deserve.