Falls Steal Dreams

by Louis on June 14, 2010

Falls Steal Dreams.

One minute you are happy. The next you are hurt, in pain, hospitalized, facing surgery, rehab, convalescence, exposure to infection, loss of conditioning, fear and the unknown. Is there anyone who does not want to avoid that?

Falls are often life changing events. At how many funerals do people comment that the fall, though it did not kill someone directly, was the precipitating event. “They just never came back from that fall last summer”.

Stolen dreams, long hospitalizations, injury, illness and misery, never seeing the inside of your home again is the opposite of Aging in Place.

Some data:

  • In 2005 the number of people over 65 who died from falls equals a 747 going down every three out of four weeks. What would we spend to keep 747s from falling out of the sky at that rate?
  • Over 90% of hip fractures are caused by falling
  • For those age 72 and over the average cost of a fall = $19,440, for hospital, nursing home, emergency room, home health care, but not doctors’ services.
  • 1 in 4 adults who lived independently before hip fracture stay in nursing home for at least a year after injury
  • 1 of 5 hip fracture patients dies within a year of their injury

What can we do about it? The best tools and techniques to reduce the risk of falls are simple and inexpensive. Why don’t people do more? (Why do people smoke?)

Here is a really quick introduction to the basic techniques for reducing falls. (I don’t think we can call it falls prevention. We can reduce the risk.)

Recognized falls risk reduction techniques include:
1. Exercise– hands down the most effective thing we can do to increase our strength, balance and general health
2. Medication Management– we need to more closely track the interactive impact of the cocktail of medications prescribed for us. It can disturb thinking, vision and balance leading to falls.
3. Vision– More regular confirmation of eyeglass prescription and other vision difficulties
4. Adjust the environment:

  • Grips- grab bars, stair rails
  • Space- move furnishings, for example, to make maneuvering easier
  • Remove and Move- clutter, throw rugs, other obstacles to safe movement
  • Lighting- good lighting and switching for better vision. Soft path lighting for night trips to the bathroom.
  • Entry – rails, good surfaces, lighting

5. Adjusting behavior-slow down, break actions down to smaller steps and complete them carefully
6. Fear of Falling– people who have fallen become more sedentary from their fear of falling again. Since moving, exercise, activity are the most important reduction techniques (see #1 above) the results of fear are counter to reducing falls.

For WAY more visit stopfalls.org, The Fall Prevention Center of Excellence.

I don’t really hate saying the same things over and over. I do hope I see some results:
WE need to make this a national priority.
need to create jobs training and paying people to install grips and rails, etc.
need to train and pay people to help others adjust their behavior.
need to collect the data to make our case.
It is our money we will save in the medical system. It is our families who will be less miserable. This is our problem. WE can solve it.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gregory Bator August 1, 2012 at 9:07 am

Excellent points! It is an accumulation of all those good common sense items our elders noted to us growing up. Everything from ‘tie your shoes, you’re going to fall’ to ‘pick up those clothes or you’ll trip over them,’ comes full circle in our own aging lives.

I’d ad one more “WE….” items to your list. “WE need to take personal responsibility for every step we take.”


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