The CDC states that there are around 36 million falls reported among older adults each year, resulting in more than 32,000 deaths. One out of every five results in an injury such as broken bones or a head injury, and more than 95% of all hip fractures are a result of falls.
The incidence of falls continues to rise. In Ohio specifically, the CDC reports that the number of older adults who fell rose from 445,059 in 2012 to 532,347 in 2020. The number of deaths related to falls rose from 975 in 2012 to 1650 in 2021.
Why are older adults falling?
The reason for the increase in falls can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as changes in balance and mobility, muscle weakness, medication side effects, or environmental hazards such as throw rugs, electrical cords, or slippery floors. Understanding the nature of these risk factors is important in developing an effective strategy to prevent falls.
How to prevent falls
The good news is that falls can be prevented. With the right precautions, you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe from falls. Here’s what we recommend.
- Consult with Your Medical Provider
Start by having an open conversation with your doctor or medical provider. Discuss your health conditions, medications, and any concerns you may have about balance and mobility. Regular check-ups can help identify potential risk factors and allow for proactive management.
- Incorporate Exercise into Your Routine
Engaging in regular physical activity is crucial for maintaining strength, flexibility, and balance. Consider activities like walking, Tai Chi, or strength training exercises tailored to your fitness level. Consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise regimen to ensure it aligns with your individual health needs.
- Choose Sensible Footwear
Wearing appropriate footwear is a simple yet effective way to prevent falls. Opt for shoes with non-slip soles, proper arch support, and a comfortable fit. Avoid high heels or shoes with slippery soles, as they can increase the risk of losing balance.
- Eliminate Hazards at Home
Conduct a thorough safety assessment of your living space. Remove clutter, secure loose rugs, and ensure that walkways are clear. Address any tripping hazards, such as electrical cords or low furniture. Consider installing handrails in key areas, like staircases and bathrooms, for added stability.
- Ensure Adequate Lighting
Good visibility is essential for preventing falls. Adequate lighting helps identify potential hazards and navigate spaces safely. Install bright, energy-efficient bulbs in hallways, staircases, and entryways. Consider nightlights in bedrooms and bathrooms to prevent stumbling in the dark.
- Utilize Assistive Devices
If needed, don’t hesitate to use assistive devices like canes, walkers, or grab bars. These tools provide additional support and can significantly reduce the risk of falls. Work with your healthcare provider to determine the most suitable assistive devices for your specific needs.