Falls are one of the major causes of mortality and morbidity in older adults. Each year, an estimated 30-40% of patients over the age of 65 will fall at least once.
In fact, in Florida, unintentional falls are the leading cause of injury or death among residents over age 65 and the 4th leading cause of injury death overall. Falls are also the leading cause of non-fatal hospital admissions in Florida, incurring an average admission charge of over $46,000 per episode.
In addition to death or injuries, and the costs associated with them, falls often have other negative consequences. These include:
- Forced relocation from the home.
- Loss of independence.
- Family stress.
- Fear of falling again.
Risk assessment is the first step in fall prevention. Among other things, your risk of falling is increased if you:
- Have fallen previously.
- Have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, or dementia.
- Suffer with weak and painful joints leading to poor balance and stability.
- Are on multiple medications.
- Have poor vision or hearing.
- Live in a home that is cluttered or in disrepair.
It is important to understand that normal aging is associated with declines in strength, balance, conditioning, and postural responses to unanticipated changes.
However, the good news is that many of these natural declines can be slowed and even improved with regular, appropriate exercise and balance training. Several good studies have shown that these programs are not only effective, leading to a better quality of life, but are often simple to implement, allowing people to do them in their homes.
In summary, take steps now to minimize your chances of falling. Talk to your doctor and have your individual risks assessed. If necessary, consider seeing a trained professional to work with you and help you develop an exercise program specific to your needs.
Dr. Ronald D. Fudala
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Wildflower Clinic Board Member and Volunteer Physician