As an older American, your chances of experiencing a fall and suffering a serious injury as a result are higher than that of the average citizen. As most people age, they develop certain risk factors that can make them more likely to fall when faced with environmental hazards such as cluttered stairs or slippery floors. Many older people also experience a decline in their overall level of motion, which can lead to muscle and bone weakness and diminished flexibility.
Falls among older populations have become so common, in fact, that they are now, per the National Council on Aging, the leading cause of fatal injury and the leading cause of hospital visits among those 65 and over.
By the numbers
Falls have become so prevalent among America’s aging populations that doctors now treat 2.8 million fall-related injuries in older people every year, and seniors and programs such as Medicare and Medicaid paid out $50 million in fall-related medical care costs in 2015 alone. As the nation’s population continues to age, however, these numbers are likely to rise, and fall-related care costs may exceed $67 billion by the year 2020.
Senior fall risk factors
While certain environmental hazards, such as wet floors or uneven sidewalks, pose a threat to virtually all Americans, there are certain aspects of aging that can make them more of a threat to older individuals. As you age, you may experience a decline in your vision, which can make you less likely to recognize obstructions in your path. You are also more likely to take prescription medications as you grow older, many of which can cause dizziness and imbalance, which can also enhance your fall risk.
Falling in your older years can impact many areas of your life, making it harder for you to maintain engaged relationships with friends or to enjoy social outings. In turn, this can lead to feelings of isolation or depression in addition to the physical pain that so often results after falls.