Falls Can Kill You. Here’s How to Minimize the Risk
Did you know falls are the major leading cause of injury-related death for US adults age 65 and older? Each year, millions of older US adults fall. At least one out of four older people fall each year, yet fewer than half tell their doctor! Even from a low height, a fall can seriously injure someone and create health complications that will result in their death. One out of five falls leads to serious injuries like a head wound or broken bones. 3 million older people are taken to emergency departments for injuries from falling, and over 800,000 of those are hospitalized for what are most likely head or hip injuries. Traumatic brain injuries were caused by falls the most.
Falling has cost Americans billions every year. In 2015 alone, falls created more than $50 billion in medical costs. 75% of these costs were covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Especially for older Americans, these costs can be exorbitant and unaffordable if the injured person is retired or doesn’t have an income.
Injuries from falling can also prevent a person from living a life as they normally would, and not just because of physical pain or limited mobility. While broken bones and head injuries are usually the most serious results, mental anxiety and fear of falling again can prevent a person from getting their strength back to full form. Many people who have fallen start to become less active because of this fear of falling again. They become weaker from a lack of exercise and are more likely to fall again.
Measured by the CDC in 2016, the age-adjusted rate of fall deaths is 62 per 100,000 elder Americans. The rate is only getting higher. Over 30 states and DC have all seen elder fall death rates increase by nearly 30% from 2007 to 2016. In Alabama, however, the rate of deaths from falls was lower than the rest of the country at 24-45 deaths per 100,000. Adults aged 85 and older were the largest increase at 4% across the country. If you are in the 65 or older demographic, you need to take the necessary precautions and get screened for fall risk.
There are several risk factors to have screened. Many risk factors can be modified in order to prevent falls. These include:
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Difficulty walking and keeping balance
- Use of medicines like tranquilizers, sedatives or antidepressants
- Vision issues
- Foot pain or bad footwear
- Home hazards that can trip you
Working on any of these factors can help prevent a fall. Most of the risk factors listed above can be prevented with slight modifications to diet, exercise or a quick home repair. If you are an older US adult, you should take these preventative measures to decrease your chances of a serious injury from falling.
Talk to your doctor. Get completely evaluated on your risk of falling. See what the specifics are that you can do to modify your risk factors. Have them look over both your prescriptions and your over-the-counter medications to see if there are some that can lead to dizziness or drowsiness. Perform strength and balance exercises. Work on improving your lower body strength, especially the legs, and maintaining your balance.
Get your eyes checked out. Keeping your eyeglass prescription updated helps immensely. If you have progressive lenses or bifocals, objects seem closer or farther away than they actually are which can lead to falls. Improve the walkways in your home. Take out things you can easily trip over. Add grab bars around the bathroom and shower and railings on both sides of your staircase. Increase your visibility with more lighting or brighter bulbs.
The CDC has plenty of extra materials to go over. You can find them here. There are fact sheets, graphics, brochures and more.
If you have been the victim of a fall due to a commercial or private property owner’s negligence, you may have a premise liability case. Call the attorneys at Lewis & Feldman, LLC for your free initial consultation at 205-896-6410, toll-free at 888-705-3997 or complete our contact form. You can also email us at jon@LewisAndFeldman.com or dfeldman@LewisAndFeldman.com.
Our Birmingham-based law firm may be able to help you resolve your falling injury case and collect compensation for your difficulties. Although our law firm is based in Birmingham, AL, we handle personal injury cases throughout the state of Alabama in Bessemer, Hoover and Mountain Brook, AL.