By Kyle M Case, CEO
In 2016, a total of 29,668 Americans ages 65 and older died as a result of a fall. In other words, falls ended the lives of 61.6 out of every 100,000 senior citizens that year. Back in 2007, there were 47 fall-related deaths for every 100,000 senior citizens.
Currently, about 1 in 4 senior citizens has a serious fall each year, and these falls prompt nearly 3 million visits to hospital emergency rooms. Twenty percent of falls result in broken bones, traumatic brain injury or other significant problems. Once every 19 minutes, a senior citizen in America dies as a result of injuries sustained during a fall.
So, with that in mind, I’d like to share a few things that people can do to help prevent falls and all of the extra problems that come with them.
1 – Get stronger
Strong, solid muscles help people stay upright. A recent study by the School of Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo found that patients who engaged in resistance training, especially training of the legs suffered fewer falls.
2 – Practice balance exercises
Even simple exercises can make a difference. For example,: stand behind a steady, solid chair (not one with wheels), and hold on to the back of it. Lift up your right foot and balance on your left foot. Hold that position for as long as you can, then switch feet. The goal should be to stand on one foot without holding onto the chair and hold that pose for up to a minute.
The next several suggestions come right from the Center for Disease control
3 – Speak Up
Talk openly with your doctor about fall risks and prevention. Tell him or her if you have fallen, or if you fell unsteady or like you might fall. Review all of your medications and discuss any side effects like feeling dizzy or sleepy. Maybe taking a vitamin D supplement could improve bone, muscle and nerve health
4 – Check Your Eyes
Have your vision checked once a year and update your glasses as you need. If you can’t see where you are going or if there is an obstacle in your way that you miss, you increase your chance of falling.
5 – Make Your Home Safe
Most falls happen at home. Keep your floors clutter free. Remove small rugs or tape them down to secure them. Add grab bars in the bathrooms. Have handrails and lights installed on all staircases. And make sure your home is well lit.
I would also humbly submit that participating in the Huntsman World Senior Games could be included in any falls prevention plan. Actively practicing and training year 'round for the Games can increase both balance and strength which can help keep your feet solidly on the ground.
For additional tips and information on fall prevention, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.