When you fall down, you have to pick yourself back up. Many of us have heard this saying, and have shared our experiences getting up after we’ve fallen on the road of life. But when we’re talking about a literal fall – falling down for real – it’s not as simple.
For Elders, a fall often may cause serious injury, such as bruising, cuts, broken bones, and head trauma. Unfortunately, such injuries can cause more than just injury and pain – they can kill. Roughly 70 Americans, 65 years or older, die every day from fall related injuries, and 4 Americans are taken to the emergency room every single minute due to a fall. And it’s a serious issue among AI/AN Elders as well. In a member survey taken at the 2014 NICOA Biennial Conference, we asked AI/AN Elders how many times they fell in the last year. Almost half said they fell at least once in the last year.
What you probably didn’t know is that your risk for falls does not go up just because of age. Rather, a variety of things could be to blame, and the more factors you have, the more likely a fall becomes. These factors include both things that are within and outside of our control.
Our health has a big impact on the likeliness of a fall. Those Elders among us who are physically weak, have diagnosed conditions, or who have sensory limitations are all more likely to fall. So too are Elders who use medications. If you are using more than four different medicines you have an even greater risk of falling.
Our homes contribute to the likelihood of a fall, too. Houses that have dim lights, thick carpets, stairs without railings, and clutter and wires on the floor are hazards when walking and make a fall more likely. The bathroom is especially important, as safety hand rails around the bathtub and toilet can really help prevent falls.
But what else can be done to help Elders stay safe? There are some easy steps anyone can take to reduce the likelihood of a fall and improve the health of the mind and body. Click here to read more information on improving your health and home to stay safe and avoid a fall.