Falls – and the even more prevalent “fear of falling.” This fear is not imaginary, but justified, with one in four older adults falling each year.
With parodies of those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” ads still ringing in our ears, it’s important not to tune out this important topic. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than one in four of those older adults falling each year, less than half tell their doctors.
While not all falls result in injury, the ER-visit and injury stats are even more attention-getting:
- Each year, 2.8 million older adults are treated in the ER for injuries from falls.
- One out of five falls causes serious injury, such as broken bones or head trauma.
- More than 95% of hip fractures, for which 300,000 older people are hospitalized each year, are caused by falls, usually from falling sideways.
Add to these stats the fact that falling once doubles your chances of falling again, and it’s no wonder that so many older adults have a fear of doing just that.Some independent living environments even have a “three falls” rule that can cause residents to be moved into assisted living if they fall more than three times within a stated time period.
There are a number of excellent resources available on the subject of falls and fall prevention. The National Council on Aging’s (NCOA) Falls Prevention program https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/, includes tips and exercise programs. One of the most comprehensive, yet simple to use, is the CDC’s Home Fall Prevention Checklist for Older Adults. The eight-page Q&A format explores reducing potential hazards throughout the home, including: floors, stairs and steps, kitchen, bathrooms, and bedrooms—along with other safety tips to help prevent falls.
Additional risk factors for falling include balance issues, medications, and vision problems. Plus, no matter how prepared or careful you are, accidents still happen. At those times, the best defense is to have a system in place to get the medical attention you need.
The GreatCall Lively Mobile, a mobile medical alert that can go everywhere an older adult goes, so they can connect to a highly-trained agent at any time. With the built-in GPS, a Certified 5Star Agent can see their location and send help as needed. The Lively Mobile also offers a Fall Detection feature, so that if the wearer falls and is unable to press the button, the device automatically contacts an agent.
Given the prevalence of falls among the aging U.S. population, it pays to be prepared—both at home and on the go. Devices like the Lively Mobile are small enough to wear anywhere—either around the neck, on a belt, on its watch-like wristband, or in a purse or pocket.