One out of three adults over 65 years of age fall every year. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 734,000 aging adult fall victims were hospitalized in 2013. Falls are the leading cause of injuries in the elderly, both fatal and nonfatal. Over 25,000 adults died in 2013 as a result of a fall injury. About half of all fall injury-related deaths are caused by traumatic brain injuries suffered in the accident. A traumatic brain injury can have a devastating effect on the individual’s continuing quality of life, even if they survive the accident.
With life-threatening consequences on the line, how can seniors focus on healthy aging and take precautionary steps to prevent falling injuries?
Assess Medication and Supplements
Medications can cause dizziness and confusion if they interact with each other. Jot down a list of your current medication and supplement intake and share it with your physician. Together, you can review the potential side effects of each pill and determine whether to eliminate any from your daily regimen.
Fall-Proof the Home
Removing all trip hazards is an important step. Make sure you have a clear pathway from room to room and remove all boxes, wires or decorations that cross your path. Use double-sided tape to secure the edge of throw rugs and immediately repair any loose flooring that may catch on your shoe. Install lighting in dark areas like stairwells so you have a clear view.
Consider Movement Assistance
At the very least, ensure your walking shoes are sturdy, comfortable and supportive. Depending on physical limitations, consider using a cane or walker when traversing long distances. In the home, a chair lift may be a safe alternative to climbing stairs. Make sure there are plenty of handholds in the shower and install a shower seat to reduce the risk of slipping.
See an Eye Doctor
A growing loss of vision can affect depth perception and balance and contribute to elderly falls. Don’t neglect annual eye exams, as your doctor can identify signs of cataracts or macular degeneration, offer treatment and adjust your eyeglasses prescription accordingly.
Join an Exercise Program
Facilitate muscle strength by staying active. In individuals with arthritis, a lack of activity can lead to muscle degeneration and weakness. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate-level aerobic exercise every week, along with two days of strength training for seniors. Exercise doesn’t always have to take place on a treadmill – swimming at the community pool, raking leaves in the garden or riding a bike around town are all ways to increase balance, agility and retain muscle throughout later years.
Do you want to be sure you’re financially covered for all medical expenses relating to fall injuries? Contact one of the knowledgeable professionals at MySeniorHealthPlan.com to discuss your current coverage and additional insurance options.