When I first got involved with my county’s local aging commission, I was surprised to learn that by 2020, there would be more older adults (>60) then school age children. That statistic alone was enough to get people’s attention. Now on a national scale I just read that as of July 11th World Population Day) there are “now more people over age 65 than under age five.” That pushes a bit of a skew to the normal population graph.
What else is getting attention; the number of falls in the senior population. I have borrowed the above image from the massive new amount of information on fall prevention on the Center for Disease Control website. NO, we are not clumsier as a generation, ignoring risk or under the influence. The fact is that as there are more senior adults, there will be more falls. It is a a straight math count. The shiny brochures with happy healthy seniors smiling out at us devote themselves to trying to prevent the preventable. That is a good thing. But the scary approach of “every second of the day an a older person falls” gives a bit of a lemmings off a cliff image to me.
Some of the information below may seem a bit too obvious. Yes people fall because they have lower body weakness. Poor vision and tripping hazards always need to be addressed. But whether you are at risk to fall because of a simple or more complicated reason you can be proactive.
I am passing this on straight from the CDC site.
What Conditions Make You More Likely to Fall?
Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. These are called risk factors. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
- Difficulties with walking and balance
- Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
- Vision problems
- Foot pain or poor footwear
- Home hazards or dangers such as
- broken or uneven steps, and
- throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.
Here is a link to one of the many new brochures.
Safety fro falls will take more than a cute acronym S T E A D I and a bunch of well intended brochures. We have to act like we are still masters of our own destinies and pay attention to the details when they count.
image credit CDC