The Fall Crisis – What No One Wants to Talk About (or Report)

by Bruce Montgomery Ph.D. March 02, 2016

The Fall Crisis – What No One Wants to Talk About (or Report)

In our previous article "Good News- Falls Can Be Prevented", we listed some general ways to prevent falls. We thought it would be helpful to start with the solution rather than the problem – since this is our orientation. But it is the problem of falling that we must address sooner or later. Safety In Place discusses home safety ideas and products to help prevent falling. Here’s why we are concerned about falling.

Falling is the number one way that seniors get hurt. According to the Center for Disease Control, each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls. Falls can cause moderate to severe injuries, such as hip fractures and head injuries, and can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, falls are a public health problem that is largely preventable.

How big is the problem?

  • One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it.
  • Among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. They are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.
  • In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments and more than 662,000 of these patients were hospitalized.

What outcomes are linked to falls?

  • Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas. These injuries can make it hard to get around or live independently, and increase the risk of early death.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In 2000, TBI accounted for 46% of fatal falls among older adults.
  • Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. The most common are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.
  • Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.

Other statistics of note:

  • One in four who sustains a hip fracture from a fall will die within a year, and another 50 percent will never return to their pre-fall level of mobility.
  • The National Safety Council notes that – during any given week – more than 30,000 Americans over the age of 65 are seriously injured by falling, and the majority of those falls occur at home.

*Note: Fall prevention efforts can reduce the risk of falling. Caregivers and older homeowners can become knowledgeable about what needs to be done to make homes as fall-proof as possible. Check here often and search for product ideas that can make you safer in your home!




Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.
Bruce Montgomery Ph.D.

Author

Dr. Bruce Montgomery is a licensed building contractor in Michigan and Florida. He is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. He has also achieved an Executive Certificate in Home Modification from the University of Southern California. He has a wide ranging educational background, including a Master of Science degree in Entomology, with a Master of Science degree in Forestry and a Ph.D. in educational administration.