Every second of every day, a senior citizen in the United States falls. Some are lucky enough to be fine. Many are injured or hospitalized. And unfortunately, deaths are common.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified falling as the number one health risk to seniors. Consider the numbers that come with that:
-36,000,000 seniors fall every year in the U.S.
-3,000,000 seniors are treated in emergency rooms due to falls
-20% of falls cause an injury
-300,000 seniors suffer hip fractures annually, 95% the result of falls
-32,000 older adults die every year as a result from falls
But if you’re reaching that age range, it may not feel like you’re at risk. Unless you’ve had a recent change in your medical status or new prescription, you may feel as healthy as ever.
Your risk factors often build gradually over time, small changes you might not think about, until the day they coalesce and cause a fall. It’s vital to understand your risk factors and know if you’re in danger of suffering a fall.
Meanwhile, here are just a few ways to know if you could be at risk.
Physiological Changes With Age
Think of being at the beach – you head down to the shoreline and feel your feet sink into the sand as you look out over the horizon. In that moment, it’s hard to believe that erosion is causing that very shoreline to shrink.
But it is, and there’s a similar effect happening with our bodies. From the age of 30 onwards we begin to lose 3-5% of our muscle mass each decade. It’s not enough to feel it on a day-to-day, or even year-to-year basis, but it’s happening over time and the effects add up.
The ongoing loss of that muscle mass can then cause falls, which often leads to less physical activity in a senior, which then causes the cycle to continue. Once a senior falls once, it doubles their chances of falling again.
Seeing The Big Picture
Just as our physical strength diminishes with age, so does our eyesight. The American Optometric Association reports that from age 60 onwards, many eye diseases can develop that cause permanent vision changes.
Those changes can span a wide spectrum from blurriness to eventual blindness.
Many seniors fall because they simply can’t see a hazard in their walking path due to diminished eyesight. Annual appointments to have your eyesight tested help ensure that any deterioration in vision is detected and addressed. Even if you already wear glasses, annual appointments are still important to keep your prescriptions up to date in the event of changes to your vision.
Take a second and scan your living area, or that of a loved one. Do you see cords, small pieces of furniture and clutter in well-traveled areas?
Any of those elements presents a fall risk. It’s a good idea to examine your home and look at any possible tripping hazards, and if possible, moving them somewhere else, even just off to the side along walls.
Cords, rugs, plants – all are everyday things we have around our homes that we often take for granted, but that can pose serious fall risks for seniors.
Prestige Helps You Take Action
With all of that said, there’s one question remaining: what can you do about it? Prestige can help.
If it’s time for you or a loved one to consider senior living, Prestige is a leader in fall reduction. At Prestige Senior Living all residents are given a full health assessment upon moving in, and then directed towards appropriate fitness and Fall Prevention classes.
You can find the location nearest you, and get in touch with them to find out how they help prevent falls, and what they can do to help keep you safe.