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Falls and the elderly – why we should be concerned

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We at Stay at Home are committed to helping senior citizens stay happy, healthy and at home. Yet a life of relative independence is threatened by the risk of falls, which become ever more serious as we get older.

The severity of this issue can hardly be overstated. More than 20,000 elderly Americans lost their lives to falls in 2010. In fact, the death rate from falls among senior citizens has been on the rise among both men and women.

Even when they are not fatal, falls cause many problems. In that same year, 2.3 million falls among the elderly led to emergency room visits, with more than 662,000 of these patients being admitted to the hospital. All told, 20 to 30 percent of seniors who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries, including head traumas and hip fractures. A senior who has received such an injury may find it very difficult to stay at home.

Even an elderly person who falls without injury may face serious consequence if they can’t get back up. This is especially a problem for seniors who live alone. After a few hours stuck alone on the floor, that person may suffer dehydration, lowered body temperature and skin sores.

We are taking an opportunity in the coming weeks to review the principles of fall prevention. We will discuss the factors that increase your risk of a serious fall as you get older—from your natural loss of balance and muscle strength, to the medications that may cause dizziness, to the health conditions that may increase the risk. Then we will review the many ways you can reduce the risk of falls for yourself and your loved ones.

This is not the first time we have discussed fall prevention, and surely it won’t be the last. As the CDC says, “falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable.” So let’s prevent them.

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