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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Falls: A Serious Danger for Our Seniors

For many older Americans falls can lead to debilitating injuries and in the worst-case scenario even death.

It’s often the case that the first fall for an older person will lead to a tremendous change in lifestyle. This change can be as simple as the beginning of bringing in caregivers to having to totally change their living situation.

The statistics on falls for people over the age of 65 are staggering. These are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • One-fourth of Americans aged 65+ falls each year.
  • Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
  • Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
  • Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
  • In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion.
  • The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.

However falling is not inevitable. There are steps that can be taken to eliminate or at least minimize falls in the home. Among those are installing safety bars, grab bars or handrails in the shower or bath, putting no-stick tape on the floor in the tub, making sure stairs are sturdy with strong hand railings and rugs are secured to the floor, avoiding clutter, removing unnecessary furniture, having adequate lighting and many more.

Additional fall factors include impaired vision, certain medications, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other common diseases in the elderly and previous surgeries.

I recently read about a 95-year-old man who demonstrates to other seniors how to fall effectively. Elliot Royce estimates he has fallen more than 14,000 times as part of his demonstrations for other seniors about how to fall safely. His recommendations include the following:

  • Try to fall to your side.
  • Tuck your chin.
  • Don’t fall on outstretched hands.
  • Place arms at your sides to help cushion the fall.
  • Bend your knees, and don’t fight the fall.
  • Try to land on your thighs, backside or shoulder. Try to avoid landing on your knees.

This video demonstration by Royce offers more tips and advice on falling. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fyan2o7PaxA


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