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Published on May 22, 2009 by Edgar Snyder

Questions and Answers About Falls and the Elderly

elderly fall injuries

Falling is a serious concern for older adults. Not only does it happen often, but many times it leads to serious injuries and sometimes even death. Below are some questions and answers from the USA Today that may give you a better understanding of slip and fall safety and risks.

Q: How common are falls for older adults?

A: In older adults, falls are actually the leading cause of injury-related deaths. One in three adults age 65 and over falls every year in the United States. Every 18 seconds, a person from that same age group will have to be treated for a fall in an emergency department, and every 35 minutes, an older adult will die because of those injuries.

Q: Are all older people at risk for falling?

A: The chances of falling do increase with age – those over the age of 85 are five times more likely to fall than those between the ages of 65 and 74.

Men are more likely to die from a fall than women; their death rate is almost 50 percent higher. Also, those who have had a previous fall or suffered a stroke, depression, or cognitive problems are more at risk.

Q: Why are the elderly so at risk for falling and becoming injured?

A: Not only do older adults naturally have more problems with their movement, balance, and eyesight, but diseases like osteoporosis can weaken bones, causing them to break more easily.

Q: Will falling result in serious injuries for an older person?

A: Not always, but it is possible. Traumatic brain injuries are most often caused by falls, and serious bone fractures, like the hip, result in a 20 percent chance of the patient dying within a year.

Q:  What are the most common types of injuries caused by falls?

A: Fractures in the hand, forearm, upper arm, ankle, leg, pelvis, hip and spine are most common.

Q: How can the elderly prevent falls?

A: Many things within a home can be adjusted or implemented to prevent falls, like adequate lighting; secure, non-slip flooring; and handrails. Also, older people can increase their balance and strength with regular exercise. Regular eye appointments can help ensure that falls aren't caused by poor eyesight.

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