Governor Pritzker Proclaims Elder Falls Prevention Week
Governor Pritzker proclamation announce Sept 20-24 Older Adult Falls Prevention Awareness week
Per CDC, falls are the leading cause of injury-related death among adults age 65 and older, and the age-adjusted fall death rate is increasing. The age-adjusted fall death rate is 64 deaths per 100,000 older adults.1Fall death rates among adults age 65 and older increased about 30% from 2009 to 2018. The increase was observed in 30 states and the District of Columbia. The fastest growing rate was among adults aged 85 and older (about 4% per year). Falls among adults age 65 and older are very costly. Each year about $50 billion is spent on medical costs related to non-fatal fall injuries and $754 million is spent related to fatal fall
• One out of four older adults will fall each year in the United States, making falls a public health concern, particularly among the aging population. About 36 million older adults fall each year--resulting in more than 32,000 deaths.
As the number of Americans age 65 and older grows, we can expect the number of fall injuries and the cost to treat these injuries to soar
Elder falls are on the rise and will continue to rise since the baby boomer generation will be the largest group in US population. Reducing falls risk is a positive direction to prevent falls. Identifying and addressing personalize rather generalized falls risk factors can greatly reduce risk. Addressing "intrinsic" or internal factors such as monitoring blood pressure, reviewing meds, slowly standing to reduce dizziness , vision test, routine doctor visits to address neuropathy/ numbness to feet or legs and pain management etc. and "extrinsic' factor or external /environmental factors such removing clutter, securing loose rails, removing electrical cords in walking path, fix uneven walkway, secure loose rugs, add grab bars etc. are just a few examples of addressing extrinsic risk factors.
Falling is a not normal part of aging but age related physical changes play a role in increasing risk. Commonly, as we age eyesight and acuity diminish, hormonal change resulting in reduction in muscle mass and reflexive movement, an increase prevalence to arthritic knees and hips causing pain and stiffness with activity. Age is not a cause for falls but rather inactivity is more likely reason to contribute to falls. The more risk factors the higher the risk of falling and injury. Instability in addition to weakness influences loss of balance reduces confidence when walking causing the senior to avoid walking or activity unfortunately by reducing activity and mobility will ultimately increase joint stiffness and weakness thus increasing risk of falls
In essence reducing number of accidental elder falls should also decrease fall related deaths .
The auto industry noticed a trending rise in auto related accidents and deaths. As the population grew so did auto drivers, more drivers on the road more accidents more deaths but the auto industry learned accidents can not always be preventable however had the capability to make the vehicle safer. By reducing the human response to an injurious situation the development of air bags, anti lock brakes, auto lane correct and safer materials in addition enforcing stiffer traffic laws etc has shown a positive impact in auto related deaths. More drivers with fewer auto related deaths.
Per Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Year 2000 US population 282,216,952 41945 auto deaths in US
Year 2019 Us population 327,096,265 37595 auto deaths in US
Although the U.S. population has been growing steadily since 1975, the rate of crash deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 is about half of what it was four decades ago.
On the other hand as the population in the US increases, adults aged 75 or older accidental fall deaths rose from 8,613 in 2000 to 34,212 in 2019. Deaths from falls are increasing, with the largest increases occurring among persons aged ≥ 85 years. To address elder falls it must be muti faceted ,reducing intrinsic and extrinsic fall risk factors and also focus on reducing injuries from falls such as helmets, hip protectors protective clothing, wearable technology. The approach to take against the growing number of elder falls resulting in deaths is not only reducing risk of falls but also more attention needed to address and reduce injuries and using technology to minimize injuries and death from accidental falls
How can you reduce risk of falls;
• Stay active and move , yoga tai chi is found to be a good form of exercise. Evidence based programs such as a Matter of balance
• If you take medications or herbal supplements review with your healthcare professional
• Get your eyes checked
• Get up slowly to reduce risk of lightheadedness
• If your unstable use a properly fitted walker/cane
• Wear good supporting shoes
• Reduce clutter
• Add grab bars
• Pick up spills
How can you reduce risk of injury from falls;
• If unstable or walking on challenging terrain wear a helmet
• Hip protectors
• Wearable technology hip protector with hip air big deploy when detecting a fall
• Cover sharp corners on tables. dressers counter tops
• Wearable technology such as air bag deployed hip protector
National Safety Council
Author: Tom DiCarlo Director of Rehab at The Pearl Of Rolling Meadows with Renewal Rehab, Member of Illinois Falls Coalition