The National Council on Aging displayed a sense of humor in choosing the date. But the organization recognizes that falls are no laughing matter.
In fact, the NCOA tells us that falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. And the organization wants us to take steps to keep our senior loved ones safe this autumn.
By the Numbers: The Costs and Consequences of Senior Falls
Consider these statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control:
- One out of three seniors fall each year, but fewer than half tell a doctor.
- 2.5 million older adults are treated in the emergency room each year for falls.
- Ninety-five percent of all hip fractures are caused by a fall.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Falls cost $34 billion in medical expenses annually.
If you’re an older adult or caring for an aging loved one, you can take action to prevent falls in the home.
Evaluate Your Senior Loved One’s Home
One-third of falls take place due to environmental hazards in the home. Loose area rugs. Poor lighting. Low furniture such as coffee tables. Torn carpeting. Wires and cords. Each of these items can present a fall hazard to an aging loved one.
Assess your loved one’s home for these hazards and others, including:
- Stairs without a handrail
- Slippery bathtubs or tubs without a handrail
- Loose stair treads
- Uneven floors
Consider placing lights on motion sensors. Or use smart lights that can be controlled remotely by the senior to improve visibility.
Have Your Loved One’s Vision Checked
Regular eye exams are a good idea because they may reveal treatable medical conditions. They are also a huge factor in fall prevention. Seniors should have annual eye exams to ensure their corrective lens prescriptions are up to date and to detect any vision problems, such as glaucoma or cataracts that could lead to falls.
Improve Balance with Regular Exercise
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends strength, balance, and agility training to help prevent falls.
Activities such as yoga and tai chi have been shown to reduce the risk of falls, too. Weight training and aerobic activity such as walking are also important components to a senior exercise program.
Your local senior center may offer exercise classes to keep older adults moving and help them enjoy the health benefits of regular exercise. This includes reducing the risk of a fall.
Start Fall Prevention This Autumn
Fall Prevention Awareness Day is a great time to encourage your senior loved one to talk with their doctor about a fall prevention plan.
You can learn more about fall hazards and senior safety at Five Star Senior Living.