By Julie Philbrook, RN, DNP, MAN, MAL
Falls are the leading cause of trauma-related injury and death among those age 65 and older. Every year, more than 2.3 million non-fatal fall injuries among older adults are treated in emergency departments in the US resulting in more than 734,000 patients being hospitalized. The direct medical costs for falls in the senior population total over $34 billion. Twenty to thirty percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries, such as lacerations, hip fractures or traumatic brain injuries. Even if no injuries occur after a fall, many people develop a fear of falling, which in turn often causes them to limit their activities. This can result in reduced mobility and loss of physical conditioning, subsequently increasing their risk of falling.
Research has proven that the risk of falling decreases when seniors take part in educational programs, which teach exercises that target building strength and maintaining balance. These programs also address other fall-related topics, including, the effects medications can have on balance, sleep, mental alertness, the role a change in vision plays in the risk of falls, and safety in and around the home environment. (more…)