How Serious Are Falls?
As people's bodies age and change, the risk of falling and incurring a serious injury increases.
Each year, one in every three adults ages 65 or older has a serious fall, with more than 2 million
people treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries. Along with the pain and impact to health
and independence, a serious fall can also be a financially costly accident. By 2020, the annual cost
of fall injuries is expected to reach $67.7 billion, mostly in the form of fractured hips and traumatic
brain injuries. Thankfully, falls aren't an inevitable part of aging. In fact, many dangerous falls can
be prevented with some simple precautions.
1. Ask your doctor about your medication. Some medicines or combinations of medicines have side effects
that cause dizziness or drowsiness, which can make a serious fall more likely. A simple doctor's visit to
review your medications can help reduce the chance of unwanted side effects.
2. Stay active and get exercise. Staying active and healthy is important in any stage of life, and can help
keep legs from weakening. To help keep strength and balance intact, consider maintaining a light exercise
regimen. Walking, water aerobics, yoga, Tai Chi and light physical activity throughout the day can reduce
fall risk dramatically.
3. Wear the right shoes. Improper footwear has been the culprit of many a bad fall. Steer clear of wearing
high heels, flip flops, backless shoes or shoes that don't fit well when at all possible. Any shoes without
good treads or nonskid soles should be avoided as well, especially in slippery conditions.
4. Remove potential home hazards. Since around half of all falls happen at home, doing a quick home safety
check can be the difference between living comfortably and having a serious fall-related injury. Removing
floor clutter and furniture in unsafe places, securing rug edges and repairing loose floorboards can help
reduce the risk of a fall.
5. More light/keep vision sharp: Poor vision and lighting conditions can make it harder to see obstacles and
get around safely. Routine eye exams ensure prescriptions are up to date and at the appropriate strength for
clear vision, while also offering a venue to speak to an eye care professional. Adding light to hallways and
other high-traffic areas, turning on lights before going up or down the stairs and installing nightlights in
bedrooms and bathrooms can all help prevent a serious fall.
6. Don't be afraid to use assistance. Simple assistive tools like tub bars, handrails and nonslip treads on
stairs offer the right amount of grip and traction to prevent serious falls, and can eliminate hazard areas
in homes. Non-slip mats are also great resources in high-risk areas like bathtubs and shower floors.