Deadly Falls On The Rise Among Older Adults: How Can Seniors Prevent Falls?


The number of seniors in the United States who die from falls has dramatically increased over the past decade, findings of a new study revealed. 

Falls In Older Adults

In a new study, Elizabeth Burns, from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues revealed that the rate of fatal falls in people who are 65 years old and older rose 31 percent from 2007 to 2016, increasing from about 18,000 to nearly 30,000.

The researchers warned that falls are among the top causes of fatal and nonfatal injuries in the 65 and older group. They also said that 59,000 older adults will die from falls in 2030 if deaths from falls continue to increase at the current rate.

"Deaths from unintentional injuries are the seventh leading cause of death among older adults, and falls account for the largest percentage of those deaths," Burns and colleagues wrote in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on May 11.

"Approximately one in four U.S. residents aged ≥65 years (older adults) report falling each year."

Why Fall Incidents Are Increasing

Burns said that one reason the number of falls is increasing is that adults are now living longer with chronic conditions. She explained that the odds of falling goes up with age but the risk gets higher with certain chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson's disease.

Other factors include walking difficulties, having muscle weakness, and use of medications, such as those prescribed for depression, anxiety, or sleep problems, which can cause confusion or dizziness. Poor vision and hazards in the environment also contribute to increased risk of falling.

Fall Can Be Prevented

Burns said that falls are preventable and older adults can adapt measures to prevent falls such as staying active. Limiting physical activities can lead to weaker muscles and poor balance and this can make future falls more likely.

Seniors should also seek advice from their doctors. Healthcare providers should discuss falls with their patients, as well as screen fall risks and evaluate medication problems with walking and balance.

Being aware of the dangers and taking measures to mitigate them can also help. Removing throw rugs, using of slippers and shoes with nonslip soles, and installing grab bars in bathrooms and tub may reduce risk of falls. Seniors should also avoid using the stairs and have their bedroom and bath on the same floor.

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