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#1 REASON FOR DEATH IN OLDER AMERICANS FROM INJURY

 

29 Million Falls

Every second of every day in the United States, an older adult falls, making falls the No. 1 cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2014, alone, older Americans experienced 29 million falls causing seven million injuries and costing an estimated $31 billion in annual Medicare costs, according to a report published by the CDC.

With more than 10,000 Americans turning 65 each day, the number of fall-related injuries and deaths is expected to surge, resulting in cost increases unless preventive measures are taken.

Reduced muscle strength, increased inactivity, more severe chronic health conditions and increased use of prescription medications are risk factors for falls among older Americans.

More than 30 percent of people over 65 who live in the community fall each year in the United States. The number increases to 50 percent for those over 80. Two-thirds of those who fall will fall again within six months. Twenty to 30 percent of those who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries making it difficult to get around or continue to live independently, which increases the risk of early death.

In 2009, 2 million older adults, those 65 and older, were treated in emergency rooms for falls. In 2007, 18,334 older adults died from injuries related to falls.   Even when falls don't lead to death, there could be a loss of mobility and independence, increased mortality or death.

Causes of Falls

So what is leading to all these falls? The mean reasons are deteriorations in balance and strength, dizziness and light-headedness, unsafe behaviors.  And eveyone is different.  One senior might be more deconditioned than another. Weaker seniors have a higher likelihood of falls. Those with balance issues that may be related to underlying sensory impairments, such as diabetic neuropathy, are at higher risk for falls. One might have vision problems, foot pain or poor footwear.

Fall Prevention

There are many things that older adults can do to prevent falls and protect themselves.  Take preventions in the home. Remove throw rugs, install grab bars and good lighting inside and outside of the home and consistently work on balance and strength training. Have your vision checked once a year and update your glasses as needed. See if taking vitamin D supplements for improved bone, muscle and nerve health is right for you.  

There are numerious exercises that can be done right at hom.  Completing consistent strength and balance training has been shown to be highly beneficial.. Common activities like walking and gardening are not enough. Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance. Specific balance exercises, Yoga, Tai Chi are all highly recommended by the CDC.

What You Can Do Right Now

There is a simple test you can do right with a loved one at home to quickly assess the fall risk.  This test is called the Timed Up and Go or TUG.  

The Timed Up and Go (TUG) Test  is a quick, easy and reliable tool to assess balance and risk for falls. This test is very effetive is assessing mobility, balance, walking ability, and fall risk in older adults.  It has been adopted for the Stopping Elderly Accidents, Death & Injuries Program at the CDC.  The only items of equipment required to perform the test are a chair with arms and a stopwatch (or smartphone with timer). Patients wear their normal footwear and use their regular walking aids if they have any. 

Directions

  • Mark or identify a line 3 meters (9.8 feet) away from a standard armchair.  (You may use easy-to-see, colored tape.)
  • Begin by sitting back in a standard arm chair. The upper extremities should not be placed on the assistive device, but it should be nearby within grasp.
  • Have an assistant give the following instructions: “When I say ‘Go,’ stand up and walk at a comfortable and safe pace to the line on the floor, turn, return to the chair and sit down again.”
  • Conduct the Test: On the word “go,” start timing. Stop timing after the person sits down.
  • Record the findings. 
  • Complete the test two times, if possible, and average the findings.

Results

On average, older adults who take ≥ 12 seconds to complete the test are at high risk for falling. These patients would definitely benefit from further intervention, such as balance and stability programs, gait training on various surfaces, stair climbing and a strengthening program BEFORE they fall and they have to do the same program but with more difficulty and pain.  If the time is between 9-12 seconds futher screening and testing is warranted to reduce the fall risk.

Watch a video of it here to see it in action:  Click Here for Video.

When to Seek Help

  1. Are you nervous to leave your home because you’re concerned about falling?
  2. Do you find yourself holding on to furniture or the wall to get between rooms in your house?
  3. Do you use an assistive device to walk?
  4. Do you often stumble or trip?

If you have answered yes to one of these four questions, it’s time to have an advanced balance assessment!

Emery Physical Therapy Offers A Balance Assessment and Training Program which includes:

  • Comprehensive balance assessment using valid and reliable balance tests
  • Vestibular Screen
  • Dynamic and static balance exercises
  • Gait training
  • Multiple sensory integration techniques
  • Safe and effective strengthening routine
  • Home exercise program
  • Tips for home safety

Call us today at 847-786-2014 or Sign up HERE today for a Free Balance Assesment at our office.   Our complimentary consultation is a brief review of symptoms between you and a member of our highly trained clinical team where we will discuss your balance and how it may be impairing your lifestyle.  If problems are detected that could benefit from physical therapy, we will advise you on your options. If there are lifestyle or exercise changes you can make on your own to improve your functionality, we will discuss and advise you on them with you.

If Physical Therapy is needed, our licensed physical therapists will work directly with you to get you on the road to recovery. We offer a wide range of balance and fall risk treatment therapy. Our clinical team takes pride in providing outstanding customer service, excellent patient care, and helping you get back to the things in life that are important to you.