We have all experienced the bumps and bruises that come with taking a fall,
but as we get
older, the stakes get higher. Per newly released numbers from the Centers
for Disease Control
(CDC), falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries for adults over 65.
Older Americans fell
29 million times in 2014, and falls claimed 27,000 lives.
While on the job in the emergency department of Iredell Memorial Hospital, Dr. Allin
Vesa has seen how a bad fall can alter a patient’s life and wellbeing.
He answered questions you may have about your parents, grandparents or
about your own
health when it comes to falls and how to keep them from happening.
What kinds of injuries are associated with falls?
A. Falls can cause of number of injuries including traumatic brain injuries,
hip fractures and other broken bones. The clear majority of hip fractures
are caused by falling. Those injuries can require surgery and can be difficult to heal.
Q. What risk factors are associated with falls?
A. Fall injuries are not limited to the elderly, but many risk factors
for falls are also associated with getting older. Those include problems
with balance, lower body weakness and vision problems. Vitamin D deficiency
can also increase your risk for a fall. External risk factors for falls
include uneven steps, wearing high heels or painful shoes, a lack of hand
rails along stairs or bathrooms and rugs which can cause someone to trip.
Risk factors are cumulative. The more you have, the more likely you are
to experience a fall.
Q. What advice can you give seniors or children of elderly parents to prevent falls?
A. For many elderly people, a serious fall can lead to the end of their
independence, which is why some try to hide falls or issues with stability
from their loved ones. You can start by having a conversation about the
risk factors with family and care providers. You should also discuss medications
and any side effects, like dizziness.
If your fall risk is high, recognize that it’s okay to ask for help
with doing things like getting out of bed or getting things that are out
of reach. Keep your cane or walker by your bedside. Also stand up slowly
and avoid sudden movements. Rubber-soled shoes are good to wear because
they are less slippery than other footwear. You can also have a family
member walk through your home and help you to find and eliminate fall risks.