Senior fall fatalities nearly double since 2000

Senior fall fatalities nearly double since 2000

The number of U.S. seniors who die from injuries sustained in falls has almost doubled since 2000, according to a new National Center for Health Statistics report.

According to the report, published in the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s NCHS Data Brief, for every 100,000 seniors, 57 died due to fall-related injuries in 2013 compared to about 30 seniors in 2000.

“I suspect the increase in falls has more to do with the fact that more individuals are simply living longer, thus increasing the chance for falling,” says Dr. Christopher Hughes, Advocate Medical Group family medicine physician at Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, Ill.  “However, there is no doubt within primary care and geriatrics, a more focused approach on preventing falls is needed.”

The NCHS reported that about 33 percent of seniors over 65 fall annually.

“The aging process decreases muscle strength, coordination and balance, as well as compromising a host of other areas, such as vision and cognitive abilities – all of which generally lead to increased falls,” Dr. Hughes says.

Dr. Hughes recommends focusing on the following to reduce fall risks:

  • Exercise – Studies have shown that general exercise reduces the risk of falls, as well as the risk of injury after a fall. Exercise programs that focus on balance are most effective.
  • See your doctor regularly – Physicians can monitor patients’ medications and identify those that may increase the potential for falls. They can also evaluate fall risks by keeping tabs on their patients’ blood pressure, cardiovascular health, visual acuity, and neurologic and cognitive abilities.
  • Vitamin D – Vitamin D supplementation may also help in preventing falls as it may improve bone mineral density and muscle function. Patients should talk with their doctors about what they feel is an appropriate dose.
  • Home safety interventions – Proper installation of stair handrails, bathroom grab rails, nonslip bath mats and other fall prevention measures can make a major difference in households where falls are most likely.

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  1. The facts regarding the number of older adults that have died after sustaining a fall related injury is alarming. For all of us that are in the healthcare industry, whether a physician, nurse, or social worker, we can help prevent more older adults from being counted among these statistics!

    Helping at-risk patients develop plans to reduce potential harm resulting from falls is paramount. Consider making a referral to Lifeline with AutoAlert. Getting help quicker is essential when helping to prevent further injury. AutoAlert offers all of the benefits of Lifeline service, plus the advanced technology provides an added layer of protection by automatically detecting a fall.

    Advocate Lutheran General Hospital Older Adult Services is a great resource! They offer Philips Lifeline emergency home response service for a very minimal monthly cost. The monthly service cost paid by the patient is low when compared to the benefits of having this 24/7 service.

    Consider calling in a referral to the dedicated Advocate Lifeline #: 1-800-806-8522. Feel free to reach out to the Older Adult Services Program at 847-296-0737 to inquire about the service and to acquire a coupon code for free activation.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.