Unless you’re playing a contact sport that involves plenty of padded gear, falling down is something you’ll want to avoid. Not only can trips, slips, and spills be painful (and perhaps a bit embarrassing), but falls often lead to serious — and costly — injuries.
One in Five Falls Results in Serious Injury
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3 million older adults are treated in emergency departments following a fall in their home or the community. About 20 percent of these patients suffer from a serious injury such as a concussion or traumatic brain injury, broken bones, torn ligaments and dislocated joints.
Seniors 65 and older are at the greatest risk of falling, with one in four experiencing at least one fall each year. Once a senior falls, their chances of falling again doubles. Even if they never fall again, the fear of falling can lead to social isolation, loss of mobility and depression.
The High Cost of Falls
Because injuries resulting from a fall usually involve fractures to the hip, ankle, wrists or arms, simple everyday tasks can become exceptionally difficult. Fall victims may have trouble getting around their home, navigating their community, or even performing basic self-care tasks such as bathing and dressing.
All too often older adults are forced to move into a care facility after they’ve suffered fall-related injuries, and rehabilitation or nursing care costs thousands per month. Even hiring in-home assistance such as a home health aide or a homemaker averages between $4,290 and $4,385 per month, and that’s on top of hospital bills, insurance co-pays and expenses that are not covered through Medicaid or other plans.
What Causes Falls?
There are a number of known risk factors that increase the chances of falling at any age, such as:
- Dizziness due to acute or chronic illness, or that’s a side-effect of prescription or over-the-counter medications
- Vision loss
- Alcohol consumption
- Low Vitamin D levels
- Poor muscle tone, especially in the lower extremities
- Foot pain caused by bunions, hammertoes, tendonitis and/or diabetic nephropathy
- Erratic blood sugar and/or blood pressure levels
- In-home hazards such as uneven floors, slippery surfaces, or even tripping hazards such as a family pet
How to Prevent Falls
While it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of falling altogether, there are a number of simple things you can do to minimize the odds that you’ll suffer from an expensive, painful fall-related injury.
Start by staying up-to-date on your medical checks to monitor for conditions that are known to increase the risk of falling. If you are taking medications that make you feel weak or dizzy, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.
Contact your local senior center or recreation department to ask about fall-prevention classes and exercise groups geared towards improving balance and lower body strength.
And if you’d like to make your bathroom, stairs and other high-risk areas of your home safer, contact us here at Valley Medical Supplies. We stock a wide variety of quality grab bars, stand poles, lift chairs and manual mobility aids that can dramatically reduce your risk of suffering a debilitating and costly fall.