Falls Prevention Awareness September 2020
Falls don't "just happen," and people don't fall because they get older. Every 15 seconds, an older adult is seen in an Emergency Department for a fall-related injury. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries for those aged 65 and over. The chances of falling and of being seriously injured in a fall increase with age.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in people age 65 and older. Common injuries due to falls are head injuries, shoulder and forearm fractures, spine fractures, pelvic fractures, and hip fractures.
Studies show that a combination of interventions can significantly reduce falls among older adults. Experts recommend:
A physical activity regimen with balance, strength training, and flexibility components.
Consulting with a health professional about getting a fall risk assessment.
Having medications reviewed periodically.
Getting eyes checked annually.
Making sure the home environment is safe and supportive.
New research also suggests hearing loss should be routinely assessed
Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths, unintentional injuries, and hospital admissions for trauma, among older adults. One in four Americans aged 65 years and older fall every year. Falls can take a serious toll on older adults’ quality of life and independence. Through lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be reduced substantially.
According to the available data in 2015, in Maryland, there were 114, 045 ED visits for fall injuries among all ages. Of those, 28,838 were among older adults aged 65 years or older representing 25% of the total. In Maryland, there were 13,048 hospitalizations for this age group in the state of Maryland and 525 adults 65 years or older died in fall-related incidents in Maryland.
In July 2009 The Maryland Falls Free Coalition: Making a difference to address fall prevention was established to address the issue of falls in Maryland. The coalition’s overarching goal is to reduce falls and fall related injuries among priority populations to improve quality of life. Their mission: Reduce the risks of falls among all Maryland residents by increasing awareness, implementing sustained evidence-based initiatives, and promoting policies that reduce falls. Their vision: Maryland citizens living active, independent, and fall-free lives. Individuals are encouraged to participate in fall prevention programs that focus on promoting healthy behaviors and creating safe environments. Older adults can reduce their risk of falling by beginning a regular exercise program, making the home safer; having a health care provider review medications; and having their vision checked and corrected. Effective falls reduction programs address these multiple risk factors. BCDA senior centers offer a wide variety of evidenced based fall prevention programs and ongoing classes, for more information go online to www.baltimorecountymd.gov/Agencies/aging/healtheducation
*facts/data from the National Council on Aging, Centers for Disease Control and Living Well Center of Excellence