Aging is an inevitable part of life, and as we get older, we tend to become frailer. As we age, our bodies cannot handle the same level of stress and trauma as they once were capable of. The numbers around elderly falls are staggering. Each year, millions of falls among the elderly results in injuries that require hospital visits and treatment. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of older adults succumb to these injuries.
Falls represent a prevalent, major public health problem around the world. In the institutional setting, falls continue to be the most common adverse event. Injuries from falls are “never events” that are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Some 3 to 20 percent of inpatients fall at least once during their admission. Injury prevalence ranges from 30-51 percent. Of these, 6-44 percent experience similar types of injuries may even result in death.
The consequences of falls among the elderly are more serious, and here’s why.
Falls are more likely to be deadly
According to some studies, older adults are three times more likely to die following a fall. There are several reasons for this. For instance, older people are more likely to have a preexisting condition, which can be exasperated by the trauma of a fall. The most common injuries following a fall are:
Recovery periods are longer
As mentioned, our bodies just can’t recuperate in the same way as we get older. Injuries sustained during a fall may require extended periods of recovery. For an older person, this can be risky. Extended stays in medical facilities expose older adults to hospital-acquired infections, which can be fatal.
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury resulting from a fall, taking a closer look at your legal options might be beneficial.
What can you do to help prevent yourself or a loved one from falling?
Observe yourself as you walk. Are you holding on to furniture, touching walls down a hallway, or running your hand along the kitchen counter? These may be signs of balance or vision issues and should be addressed.
Have a conversation. Talk to a family member or doctor about any concerns you have about falling. Many people say, “That’s not going to happen to me,” even if they have had falls in the past. Be honest about the reality of how aging affects the body and how balance, vision, reaction time, physical fitness, and chronic conditions can result in a fall.
Discuss your current health condition with a family member or doctor. Are you taking your medications as prescribed? Any side effects? Can these affect balance or vision? Make an appointment with your physician if you have any concerns or if it’s been over a year since you have had a physical.
Have an eye exam. Are you using current prescription eye glasses or the ones from 10 years ago? Are they tinted or transitions which take a moment for the change to occur? Do you have bifocals? These can make stairs a real hazard. Are there any eye conditions such as cataracts or macular degeneration impacting your vision? All these should be addressed by a professional.
Overcome the stigma of appearances. Relinquish the heels or floppy sandals for secure shoes with little or no heels and rubber soles for traction. If a doctor or therapist suggests a cane, use it! There are many ‘designer’ canes made now that you can find at your local drug store.
Have a Home Safety Assessment performed by a professional. Your home is the one place where you have the most control of your environment, so let’s make it the safest one. Clear the floors, brighten the lighting, and install grab bars inside and outside of your home. A professional will give you specific ways to make your home safer. What was acceptable when you were in your 30’s may not be suitable in your 70’s.
At Jefferson Law Center, our highly knowledgeable staff is ready to help you. For a free case consultation call 586-270-4010 today.