LAS VEGAS –
A fear of falling is a real fear for many older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 734,000 people were admitted to the hospital after treatment in an emergency department in 2013, and 25,500 older adults died from unintentional falls. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in older adults. They can lead to a loss of independence and impact quality of life. Falls are preventable, but they are not an inevitable part of aging, according to the National Council on Aging, which has tips and resources for older adults and caregivers on its website: Healthy Aging Fall Prevention. Information is also available on the Senior Fall Prevention section of the Get Healthy Clark County website.
Older adults are encouraged to discuss their risk of falling with their health care providers, who can provide a fall risk assessment; however, fewer than half of older adults will do so. Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling, causing them to limit their activities. This can lead to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, which, in turn, can actually increase the risk of falling. Evidence-based programs are available for seniors to reduce their risks and focus on increasing muscle strength and balance.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors, including:
Lower body weakness
Difficulties with balance and walking
Medications, including over-the-counter medicines
Home hazards-throw rugs, clutter, bad lighting, broken steps
Exercise regularly to improve bone health, balance, and coordination.
Make homes safer by removing items from stairs/walkways to prevent tripping, avoid using step stools, use non-slip mats in tubs and showers, improve lighting, remove throw rugs or put double-sided tape on them to prevent slipping, install handrails/lights on staircases.
Consult a healthcare provider to review medications as some can cause lightheadedness or drowsiness and increase the risk of falling.
Have a vision check, because poor vision or incorrect lens prescriptions can increase the risk of falls.