Worried About You or a Loved One Falling?
Falls among older adults is a serious problem that can impact health status in a blink of an eye. Fall prevention is a necessary strategy to help mitigate fall risk. Did you know millions of adults, 65 and older, fall year?1 If you fall once, the risk of another fall in the next six months over doubles.2 What is even worse, most people don’t report a fall to his or her health care provider.3 According to the CDC, the estimated medical cost of fall injuries across the U.S. healthcare system is $50 billion annually. This includes $38 billion paid by Medicare and Medicaid and $12 billion paid by private and other payers.4 The sad part is not just the injuries or cost. It is a fact that most falls are very preventable if people were to access fall prevention programs and services. Even just a fear of falling can lead older adults to limit activity which then results in more falls, faster physical decline, depression, and social isolation.
What You Need to Know About Risks of Falling
Here are some statics about falls:
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. 5
- One out of 5 falls leads to a head injury or broke bone.6,7
- Falls usually occur to the side.8
- 95% of hip fractures are from a fall9
- Over 3 million older adults are treated in the ER for falls each year.10
What Contributes to Fall Risk?
There are many risk factors that contribute to falls. Being aware and understanding these risks, you can then adjustments and modifications to your life to reduce risk of falling especially among older adults.
Some of the risk factors are:
- Gait (walking) disturbance
- Balance deficits
- Lower body weakness
- Medication interactions- even from over the counter supplements
- Visual or hearing disturbances
- Fear of Falling
- Previous Falls
- Foot issues including neuropathy, pain or poor footwear
- Home and environment hazards such as throw rugs, clutter, uneven pavement, stairs
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Blood pressure issues (orthostatic hypotension or low blood pressure)
- Poor lighting
Most falls occur due to a combination of the factors listed above. Risk of falling can be reduced or eliminated, especially with older adults with an individualized fall prevention program created by our McHenry physical therapist and health care team. A physical therapy exam can determine an individuals risk of falling, provide education on personal risk factors, educate on exercise and mobility, prescribe a home exercise regiment, provide home modification recommendations, and provide referral to other health care providers such as an eye specialist or occupational therapist.
Prevent Falls: What Can You Do Right Now?
Preventing falls can start right now! If you noticed you had any of the risk factors listed above make sure to contact your medical provider to start working on reducing your risk. Have your physician review your medications, check your Vitamin D levels, and discuss a referral to physical therapy. Physical Therapists can get you started on a fall prevention exercise program that you can even continue at home. It may include stretching, strengthing, balance activities and movement activities such as Tai Chi. Start some simple home modifications such as picking up clutter, removing throw rugs, adding grab bars in the bathroom, increasing lighting such as night lights.
Prevention of falls doesn’t have to be an impossible task. Access to help is just a call away. If you would like more information about Red Rock Physical Therapy and Wellness’s fall prevention programs we would love to hear from you! Just give us a call at 815-451-4502. We offer 1:1 treatments in private treatment rooms. Red Rock has access to state of the art equipment including PowerPlate Vibration Training and Pilates Reformer and also physical therapy specialists trained in Concussion Managment, Vertigo/Dizziness, Tai Chi, Yoga and so much more. Most people see improvement in balance and confidence within a few sessions.
Let Red Rock PT help you keep active in the life you love and independent in your home and life!
- Bergen G, Stevens MR, Burns ER. Falls and Fall Injuries Among Adults Aged ≥65 Years — United States, 2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016;65:993–998. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6537a2
- O’Loughlin J et al. Incidence of and risk factors for falls and injurious falls among the community-dwelling elderly. American Journal of Epidemiology, 1993, 137:342-54.
- Stephens JA, Ballesteros MF, Mack KA, Rudd RA, DeCaro E, Adler G. Gender differences in seeking care for falls in the aged Medicare Population. Am J Prev Med 2012;43:59–62.
- Stephens JA, Lee R. The Potential to Reduce Falls and Advert Costs by Clinically Managing Fall Risk. Am J Prev Med 2018:290-297.
- Jager TE, Weiss HB, Coben JH, Pepe PE. Traumatic brain injuries evaluated in U.S. emergency departments, 1992–1994. Academic Emergency Medicine 2000&359;7(2):134–40.
- Alexander BH, Rivara FP, Wolf ME. The cost and frequency of hospitalization for fall–related injuries in older adults. American Journal of Public Health 1992;82(7):1020–3.
- Sterling DA, O’Connor JA, Bonadies J. Geriatric falls: injury severity is high and disproportionate to mechanism. Journal of Trauma–Injury, Infection and Critical Care 2001;50(1):116–9
- Parkkari J, Kannus P, Palvanen M, Natri A, Vainio J, Aho H, Vuori I, Järvinen M. Majority of hip fractures occur as a result of a fall and impact on the greater trochanter of the femur: a prospective controlled hip fracture study with 206 consecutive patients. Calcif Tissue Int, 1999;65:183–7.
- Hayes WC, Myers ER, Morris JN, Gerhart TN, Yett HS, Lipsitz LA. Impact near the hip dominates fracture risk in elderly nursing home residents who fall. Calcif Tissue Int 1993;52:192-198.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web–based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online]. Accessed August 5, 2016.