What to know about seniors and falling

3:43 PM, Jun 04, 2019

As adults get older and their footing becomes less sure, they run the risk of falling. In fact, falling and getting hurt is one of the top fears of seniors across the United States, and nearly one in three adults 65 or older will experience a fall, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Additionally, many seniors who take a spill don’t tell their doctor about it, as they don’t want their activities to be limited. However, not reporting a fall can do more harm than good.

“Out of those folks, probably less than half are going to report it to their healthcare provider,” said Ashley Lawson, a physical therapy clinician for Solaris Healthcare, in an interview with Fox4. “Once someone falls, their chance of falling again doubles.”

This creates a tricky situation: Not only are patients at greater risk of falling again, but they also run the risk of more serious injury. A CDC study found that “of those who fell, 37.5% reported at least one fall that required medical treatment or restricted their activity for at least 1 day.”

An estimated 20% of falls by seniors result in more serious injury, such as head trauma or broken bones. Severe injuries, including hip fractures, require intensive interventions and long recoveries. This can jeopardize health long-term.

It’s not just the injuries that are cause for concern, as hospital admission costs for fall injuries were upwards of $50 billion in 2015, according to the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

To add to the issue, even the fear of falling can be its own threat to seniors’ health, as they are less likely to engage in the physical activities they love. This leads to a lower quality of life – lower mobility and higher rates of depression – because they feel that they’re unable to enjoy the activities they previously enjoyed.

It’s not all bad news, though. Seniors who are proactive about preventing falls, especially if they’ve already fallen once, can stop being afraid and can enjoy living their daily lives.

The answer? Physical therapy.

When a senior participates in a balance/fall management program, it can provide them the chance to develop and learn skills necessary for safe, functional mobility with reduced risk for falls.

“We try to figure it out – why did that person fall?” Lawson said. “Then, we come up with an individual plan to address each problem, look at their environment and see if they need to modify that.”

Sometimes physical therapist recommendations are simple solutions for changes at home. Therapists look at the tasks people need to do each day and teach how to safely do them. Those adjustments to everyday living can lead to a much better quality of life.

If you are worried about fall risks for you or a loved one, Solaris HealthCare can help. Its mission is to improve the health and wellness of individuals throughout the southeast by providing community healthcare services. Contact Solaris with any questions and to enroll in a fall management program.

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