Every year approximately, 2.8 million people are injured by falls, leading to hospitalization or emergency treatment. According to the National Council on Aging, “every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall”. The most common injuries resulting from falls are minor scrapes, abrasions, and broken bones. More serious injuries can include head traumas which may lead to brain injury. The financial costs of falling can be very serious and cause substantial medical bills. The direct medical costs for falls are $31 billion every year and that number is expected to increase as the population continues to age. The projected financial toll for older adult falls has the potential to reach $67.7 billion by the year 2020 (NCOA).
The risk of falling a second time after the first event, increases by 50%. With consequences this severe, it is important to know what causes falling and the best way to prevent it from happening. Research has shown specific risk factors that contribute to a fall. Some of these threats include but are not limited to: clutter, broken steps/handrails, spills and even carpeting or rugs. Becoming familiar with these risks will help you avoid an unsafe and unnecessary hazard. Another risk for falling that can be prevented with careful monitoring is a vitamin D deficiency. A vitamin D deficiency can lead to fragile bones, decelerated bone cell reproduction, and poor calcium absorption. Taking a vitamin D supplement can greatly reduce this risk. Other risk factors include visual impairment, foot pain or improper footwear, certain medications which effect balance and a steady gait, and lower body weakness causing difficulty walking, standing or balancing. Although these are common causes these are not the only threats that cause falls.
Falling can affect everyday life even if no injury has occurred. According to the CDC, “Many people who fall, even if they’re not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling”. Falling is a fear of numerous older adults which can limit their want to participate in various social engagements and activities. As a result, feelings of depression, social isolation, and helplessness can occur. However, with proper care and monitoring these risks can be reduced and possibly eliminated in certain situations which can alleviate the fear of a possible fall. Moreover, it is extremely important that these risks are identified. Recognizing these risks will help to reduce and prevent serious injury from falling. A caregiver trained to identify and eliminate these risks, as well as providing outstanding, comforting care cannot only make a difference but also create a safer and healthier environment.
“Important Facts about Falls.” CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Feb. 2017. Web. 21 June 2017. <https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html>.
“Falls Prevention Facts.” NCOA. National Council on Aging, 31 May 2017. Web. 21 June 2017. <https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/falls-prevention-facts/>.