Falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in Americans 65 and older. Every year, one out of every three seniors will fall, and sadly, some of them will never get up. It can be a slow, painful process, and can cause lasting disability.
There’s no one way to address this tragic problem. Ultimately, it requires an effort on various fronts, with families, neighbors, health care providers, elder care workers, and public health officials working together. This September, people all over the country will try to do exactly that, marking another successful Fall Prevention Awareness Day.
Just look at Hamilton County, Tennessee, where public health officials organized a “Take a Stand to Prevent Falls” event.
?In Hamilton County, there were 736 fall-related hospitalizations among older adults in 2012, resulting in almost $27 million in hospital charges,” said Carleena Angwin with the Hamilton County Health Department in Chattanooga, TN. “In that same year, 19 older adults died as a result of a fall. We can change this by bringing greater attention to the many preventive measures that can be easily employed to help keep older adults safe.?
Around the country, public health officials are stepping up their outreach efforts, trying to educate families with aging relatives in need of home care or elder care services. So how can people help prevent their aging loved ones from suffering death or injury from a dangerous fall? Experts recommend:
- Exercise and physical activity based on balance, flexibility, and strength
- Asking a health care provider to perform a fall risk assessment
- Carefully review and monitor prescription medications
- An annual eye and ear exam
- Making any necessary changes to the home environment
- Ensuring proper communication devices like smartphones are on hand
- Investing in non-medical home care and companionship services
- Planning regular checkups be neighbors or nearby relatives, or failing that, regular phone calls
While some seniors and aging parents require medical elder care, others simply need a little help around the house. That can be performed by relatives, senior care services, or neighbors.