Falls are a serious health issue for older adults. The number of falls for seniors in the United States is likely to increase as the people live longer and the population ages. Below are some facts about falls in the U.S., and ways for seniors and their caregivers to help prevent them.
- Every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall in the United States.
- One in three seniors suffers a fall each year.
- The incidence of falls increases with age.
- In the United States, women over 70 years of age are more likely to suffer a fall and have double the rate of injury compared to men of the same age.
- One out of five falls causes a serious injury like a broken bone.
- Each year, over 2.5 million seniors are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries.
- More than 90% of hip fractures are caused by falls.
- Falls are the most common cause of Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI).
sources: CDC, Pubmed
What Seniors Can Do
- Do exercises that help with strength and balance such as Tai Chi. These exercises can help the body become better at avoiding falls. Lower body strength exercises are particularly helpful.
- Have your eyes checked. Having an eye exam can identify problems with vision
- Talk to your doctor if you are taking a medication that interferes with balance.
- Talk to your doctor about taking a Vitamin D supplement – Vitamin D deficiency can be a risk factor for falls.
- Make sure you have proper supportive footwear and talk to your doctor about any foot pain you may be experiencing.
What Caregivers Can Do
- Ensure that the home is safe by installing grab bars near the shower and toilet
- Make sure the home is well lit, and consider installing night lights as well.
- Fix home hazards such as broken or uneven steps or rugs and items that can be tripped over.
How does a caregiver know when it’s time to consider assisted living for their loved one? Sarah Stevenson at A Place for Mom put together a list of signs that memory care or assisted living might be the most helpful option. Here are a few of them:
Wandering. If dementia is a problem or potential problem for your loved one, wandering is a higher risk. Wandering can be dangerous as it can increase the probability of falls and injuries.
Sundowning. A common characteristic of Alzheimer’s, sundowning describes agitated behavior that becomes worse late in the day.
Aggression. If a loved one is verbally or physically aggressive it might be time to consider assisted living care. These are signs that dementia may be setting in.
Home safety issues. If you are concerned about the safety of your family member in the home, this is a sign that it may be time to seek outside help.
Escalating care needs. If the needs of your loved one are beyond their caretaker’s abilities, or the health of the caregiver is at risk, steps should be taken to improve the situation.
Caregiver stress. Caregivers should take care to look after their own wellbeing in addition to those being cared for. If a caregiver is overly stressed their needs should also be considered.
Check out the full article on A Place For Mom. If any of these factors are an issue for you or a caretaker caring for someone you love, consider finding out more about assisted living or memory care facilities near you.
This month, exclusive footage from a forthcoming PBS documentary Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts debuted on NextAvenue.org.
The clip focuses on tips offered by Dr. Rudolph Tanzi (Harvard Medical School) to reduce the spread of memory loss. His advice includes the usual suspects: maintaining a healthy diet, getting exercise, and (our favorite) getting 7-8 hours of deep sleep per night.
The Brooking Park team felt especially compelled to share this video in relation to our October post about the (in)effectiveness of popular brain games. Dr. Tanzi touches on this topic:
So I tell people, ‘when you’re getting ready for retirement, you have to equally think of a financial reserve, and a synaptic reserve’….And that really means learning new things. It doesn’t mean playing brain games, which could just help focus, but not really make new synapses
His analogy contrasts New York Times crossword puzzles from Monday through Thursday – which only helps focus, versus the weekend crosswords that require the solver to apply what they’ve learned during the week from the weekday puzzles.
Check out the four-minute video below:
The 60-minute documentary premiers January 25, 2017, at 9pm CST on PBS.
As a New Year’s resolution, challenge yourself: replace red meat with fish, find ways to reduce stress, and stay socially and intellectually active!