Falls are more common than you’d think
As a caregiver, the last thing you want is for your older adult to fall and get hurt. But unfortunately, seniors fall at an alarming rate.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 out of 3 people age 65+ falls each year. After age 80, that increases to a 1 in 2 chance.
That means your older adult has a 33% to 50% chance of falling this year. Yikes!
What makes seniors fall?
As we age, our bodies change. These gradual changes add up to increased fall risk.
After tripping or stumbling, a younger adult can rely on strong muscles and sharp reflexes to quickly regain balance. But an older adult has a weaker body response and is far more likely to fall.
6 physical changes that increase fall risk:
- Strength – Muscle loss starts early, around age 30. Less muscle means less strength and weaker bones.
- Balance – Many body systems work together to keep us standing upright. Aging bodies and medication side effects can make it more difficult to stay balanced.
- Eyesight – Vision helps us keep our balance and avoid obstacles. As vision worsens, so does the ability to stay upright and clearly see what’s in our path.
- Flexibility – Lack of flexibility, especially in hips and ankles, can lead to falls (and causes poor posture too).
- Endurance – Decreased endurance (like how long you can stand without getting tired) increases fall risk.
- Walking – Walking improves strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance. As seniors become less active, they can get into a negative spiral where less activity leads to less strength, balance, etc. That leads to losing confidence in their walking ability.
Why is it so important to prevent falls?
In seniors, falls typically cause hip fractures and head injuries. They’re also the leading cause of death from injury, often from traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Even if an injury isn’t life threatening, falls still have harsh long-term consequences for older adults because their bodies usually aren’t able to recover fully.
Their overall health worsens, their care needs increase, and they can end up needing extended stays in nursing homes or assisted living facilities.
Many falls are preventable
The good news is that that many falls can be prevented. Decluttering the house and making simple safety updates go a long way to prevent falls. So does getting regular check-ups from the doctor and eye doctor and using walkers and canes properly.
You might also like:
— Home Safety for Seniors: 10 Quick Fixes for Bathroom, Bedroom, and Kitchen
— VIDEO: 15 Minute Senior Exercise Program for Balance and Strength
— VIDEO: Get Up From a Fall MacGyver Style!