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Fall Prevention and You

Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014

Are you or someone you know at risk of falling? Learn more about fall prevention.

The statistics are alarming. One in every three adults age 65 and older falls each year. These falls can lead to injury, hospital stays, loss of independence and death.

Most fractures among older adults are caused by falls. The most common include fractures of the spine, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand. More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.

These injuries make it difficult for older adults to live independently and get around, and increase the risk of early death. Even if people are not injured in a fall, they may develop a fear of falling, which may cause them to limit their activities. This can lead to reduced mobility and can decrease physical fitness – in turn increasing the actual risk of falling.

Over the past decade, death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply. Each year in the United States, more than 1.6 million older adults go to emergency departments for fall-related injuries.

While it is true the risk of falling rises with age, it's also true that falls are largely preventable.

"Falls are not an inevitable result of aging. They are preventable," says Doylestown Hospital vestibular (balance) specialist Jenna Klenieski, PT, DPT.

Tips for Preventing Falls Among Older Adults

  • Exercising regularly to increase overall strength improve balance
  • Doing weight-bearing exercise
  • Consulting with a doctor to review their medicines to determine if any may cause side effects or interactions like dizziness or drowsiness
  • Using a cane or walker if advised by their doctor
  • Having their eyes examined by an eye doctor at least once a year
  • Making their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars in the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of the stairway and making sure they have good lighting in their home
  • Wearing non-skid, low-heeled or lace-up shoes that provide full support for the feet; Don't walk around in socks or smooth-soled shoes and slippers
  • Getting enough calcium and vitamin D (from food and/or supplements)
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Getting screened and treated for osteoporosis
  • Thinking about getting a home-monitoring system or "medical alarm"

Doylestown Hospital offers vestibular (balance) rehabilitation, which is specialized physical therapy in the treatment of falls, imbalance, dizziness and vertigo. The therapists at Doylestown Hospital want to keep people safe from falls.

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