The Startling Reality of Falls in the US

Why You Should Take Notice Now

older woman has fallen on the living room floor.

Falls are Common

Every once in a while, we hear about someone—a neighbor, a family friend, or even a loved one—who had a bad fall. While it’s easy to brush these incidents off as rare occurrences or simple accidents, the reality of falls is far from it. Falls are one of the most common and dangerous risks that older adults face. As a matter of fact, falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to emergency departments in the United States. Prepare to be surprised by the startling statistics and, more importantly, learn what you can do to prevent such accidents.

The Shocking Numbers

To put it bluntly, falls are not rare. In fact, they are alarmingly common, especially among older adults. Did you know that an older adult falls every second in the United States? To further break it down, that’s 60 older adults falling every minute, 3,600 every hour, 86,400 every day, and a staggering 31.5 million each year! (CDC)

What’s even more eye-opening is the ripple effect these falls can have. They’re not just an inconvenience; they can lead to hospital stays, long-term disabilities, and even fatal consequences. In financial terms, the costs are astronomical. The healthcare system spends billions every year just on treating fall-related injuries. Here are a few statistics to put that into perspective:

  • About 27,000 older adults die every year due to falls.
  • Over 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
  • The average hospital cost for a fall injury is over $30,000.

The Places You’d Least Expect

Now, you might be thinking that these falls happen in risky environments, but the majority (more than half) actually occur in places we consider “safe,” like our own homes. Simple things such as a cluttered floor, a wet bathroom surface, or even an uneven step can be the culprit. Public places aren’t any safer, either. Misjudging a step or tripping over an obstacle can happen more easily than we often admit.

Prevention: Home Modifications

Since our homes are a common site for falls, let’s start by making them safer. Something as basic as placing non-slip mats in the bathroom and kitchen can significantly reduce the risk. Handrails in hallways and staircases are also essential. For those with mobility challenges, more substantial changes like installing ramps instead of stairs or stairlifts can be life-changing. Simple home modifications like these can reduce the risk of home falls by up to 30-50%.

Prevention: Medical Interventions

Don’t underestimate the power of a regular medical check-up. Some falls occur due to medical conditions or medications that may affect your balance. Regularly reviewing your medicines with your healthcare provider can help minimize this risk. Regular eye and hearing checks are also essential as poor vision and hearing significantly increase the risk of falls. In terms of physical aids, devices like canes and walkers can provide that extra bit of stability when you need it most. Balance and strength exercises can reduce falls by up to 50%

Knowledge is Power

We’ve covered a lot, but it’s essential to keep learning. After all, prevention starts with being informed. While the stats can be unsettling, they also empower us to take action. You can start today by using our Home Safety Checklist to ensure you’re doing all you can to prevent falls in your home.

Take Fall Prevention Seriously

No one should underestimate the consequences of a fall. It’s a leading cause of injury among older adults and can impact your quality of life severely. Falls often result in a fear of falling, leading to less activity and loss of physical fitness, which, in turn, increases the actual risk of falling. Additionally, more than 40% of individuals who fall are not able to return to independent living. The stats are not just numbers; they’re a wake-up call. But the good news is, that taking preventive measures can drastically reduce these risks. Don’t wait for a fall to happen; take action today.

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Disclaimer: The content in this blog post is meant for general informational purposes and should not be considered professional advice. While we strive for accuracy, we recommend consulting experts for specific guidance. We are not responsible for any decisions made based on this information.

Liz Craven
Author: Liz Craven

Liz Craven, along with her husband Wes, owns Pro-Ad Media, publisher of Sage Aging ElderCare Guide, serving the local community for over 29 years. Liz lives in Lakeland and is very active in the local community, specifically in the area of aging. Liz serves on a number of local boards and committees including the Lakeland Vision and Age Friendly Lakeland.