Basics of Preventing a Fall
Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. One in three persons over the age of 65 falls each year; the number grows to one in two for those 80 years or older. Every 13 seconds, an older adult is seen in an emergency department for a fall-related injury. Every 8 minutes an older adult in Pennsylvania is hospitalized for a fall related injury. Here in York County, deaths from falls are on the rise.
Risk Factors for Falls
There are many risk factors that contribute to falling. Some are modifiable. Most falls are caused by the interaction of multiple risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chance of falling. Risk factors include:
Difficulties with Balance and Walking
As we get older, we may have trouble moving and become less active. This makes it easier to fall. (Falls Free- National Council On Aging)
In the aging eye, less light reaches the retina (the part of the eye that helps you see). This makes it harder to see objects in your path. (Falls Free- National Council on Aging)
Problems with Feet and / or Shoes
The feet, like the rest of the body, feel the effects of age. With age, there may be some loss of feeling, and feet and ankles may swell. (Harvard Health Publications – Harvard Medical School)
Going barefoot, wearing socks without shoes, and wearing slippers are associated with increased risks for falls (National Institutes of Health).
Position Changes / Blood Pressure That Drops
People who are less active might become dizzy when they go from lying down to sitting up, or from sitting to standing. This happens because your blood pressure drops and less blood can get to your organs and muscles. This can make you fall. (A Matter of Balance - MaineHealth)
Muscle Strength / Lower Body Weakness
Our muscles may become weaker as we age. Exercise can help strengthen our muscles. (Falls Free- National Council On Aging)
Some drugs (medications) can cause side effects that cause a fall. Take all medications as prescribed by your doctor(s). (Falls Free- National Council On Aging)
How SAFE is your home?
Nearly 85% of falls occur at home due to "environmental hazards".
Many people think falls are a normal part of aging. The truth is, they are not! Most falls can be prevented - and each willing, older adult has the power to reduce his / her own risk.(The home safety checklist was created by Sarah Kirby)
A Matter Of Balance
The York County Area Agency on Aging is one of several community groups offering falls prevention classes. A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns about Falls is a nationally recognized program that can help reduce the fear of falling and increase the activity levels of older adults who have concerns about falling. Trained volunteer coaches teach the program in a variety of community settings.