One simple fall can trigger a shocking, rapid decline in health – and independence – for an elderly person. Tragedy of a slip and fall.

In fact, an alarming twenty-five percent of older people who fall and fracture a hip die within a year – with the number of people over 65 who died after a fall reaching nearly 24,000 in 2012. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related death for people over 65, with more than 2.4 million people over 65 treated in ERs for injuries from falls in 2012 alone, an increase of 50 percent since 2002. CDC report on adult falls

The direct medical costs of older adult falls topped $30 billion in 2012 – with injuries ranging from traumatic brain injuries to pelvic and hip fractures. The cost of falls among older adults

Researchers also say that there has also been a spike in diseases linked to falls: diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and Parkinson’s disease.

Why the increase in older Americans taking major  tumbles? The primary reason: the population is aging and people are living longer.

Exacerbating the problem: medications like hypertension drugs and antidepressants, which can cause dizziness. 

Many elderly people refuse to believe that their vision and balance have deteriorated – rendering them even more vulnerable. As an example, retirement and assisted living communities frequently hold events focused on improving balance and fitness, but residents often shun them – until it is too late and they have already fallen. Bracing for the fall

Experts agree that the elderly have an exaggerated sense of what they can and cannot do – and ignore the myriad hazards, including curbs, slippery floors, staircases and more.

To help circumvent the costs and pain that falls and subsequent injuries incur, the CDC recommends that older adults adhere to the following:

  • Exercise regularly. Focus on leg strength and improving balance, Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask doctor or pharmacist to review medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have eyes checked at least once a year and update eyeglasses to maximize vision.  Consider glasses with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
  • Make homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, add grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, railings on both sides of stairways – and improve the lighting.
  • To lower hip fracture risk, older adults can:
  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.
  • Do weight bearing exercise.

Get screened and, if needed, treated for osteoporosis. An Overview

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