Just Don’t Fall!

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How many times have you heard someone say their father or mother was fine before s/he fell?  For many older adults, an unexpected fall can lead to a series of events that end in serious or fatal complications.  As a result, as they begin to lose their balance, many elderly are terribly afraid of falling.  These falls not only make living independently more of a challenge, they also increase the risk of an early death.

According to the National Institute of Health, “falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths” among older adults in the US.  The most common fractures from falls are:  spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand.  About 20-30% of those who fall suffer from hip fractures and head trauma.  And, 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.

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The Center for Disease Control says that 1 out of 3 of those aged 65 and older fall every year and people 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely than those aged between 65 and 74 to be admitted to a long term care facility for a year or more.  In 2010, 2.3 million non-fatal falls were treated in the emergency room and more than 662,000 were hospitalized.  The estimated direct medical costs for these injuries were $30 billion.