About Half of All Americans Over 65 Have a Fall — Each Year

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Click to look at the CDC’s complete pamphlet.

I’ve just finished reading a Washington Post article, Strategies for Preventing Falls, Which Are Especially Risky for Older People, appearing in the online edition on March 16, 2015, It reviews the risks, examines the facts about falling, describes how to check an individual’s steadiness, and makes suggestions about the various ways a person can improve balance.

The article describes a number of tests that can evaluate whether a person is prone to falling. An aging parent should perform them with a physician or physical therapist, who can go through the series of steps and safely evaluate whether or not a person is likely to fall. Physically fit adult children can probably experiment —  carefully — at home with some of these tests. The Washington Post article explains them in detail, so I’ve just listed the tests below, and I’ve also linked several of the tests to videos.                        Continue reading

Falls, Falls, and More Falls – Part II

The other day I wrote about elder adults and falls after reading Bracing for the Falls of an Aging Nation, published in the November 2, 2014 New York Times. The author, Katie Hafner, wrote about the extreme challenges of falls for aging individuals. The next day, November 3rd, part II appeared. Katie Hafner’s second piece, A Tiny Stumble, A Life Upended, focused on one individual and her arduous recovery from a damaging fall. Both articles are worth reading.

My Past Blog Posts on Adult Falls

Senior Falls: Different Types – Different Interventions

If you have aging parents who fall — and most of us have some experience with parent falls — read the article about senior falling in the September 9, 2010 Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. On its website (not active in January 2012) , the Mobilize Boston Study organization that conducted the research states that, “The purpose of the study is to collect information that will help us learn how older adults can maintain their health and independence longer.” The article abstract is free, but the article itself requires payment (or you can visit the library at your local hospital). A lot of good information is also available at the study’s website.

Identifying the differences between senior falls that occurred inside and those that occurred outside, the Mobilize Boston Study followed a cohort of 765 randomly selected men and women, most over 70 years old. Researchers collected data through questionnaires and medical examinations. During a median follow-up period of 21.7 months, 1,122 total falls occurred, consisting of 598 indoors and 524 outdoors. The authors reminded readers that 35 – 40 percent of people age 65 and older fall each year. All study participants were Boston, Massachusetts residents, and they reported falls as they occurred.

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More Info on Falling – Aging in Place Tech Watch

As Our Parents Age has posted many pieces on seniors and falling — a topic near and dear after two of our senior parents fell numerous times in their later years. Over at Aging in Place Technology Watch, Laurie Orlof posted comments and thoughts about senior falls on September 12, 2010. She also reviewed some recent research, puzzling on why the number of falls remains so high. It is worth taking the time to read, and also to consider signing up for Laurie’s blog updates and Twitter posts (AgingTech). So much to learn!

One comment in her post rang true for my family.
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Observing a Senior Fall in the Supermarket

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Alas we watched it happen this afternoon.

Moving at breakneck speed through a large supermarket we reached the end of a row and saw an elderly woman fall as she pushed her cart. Earlier we had watched her moving slowly through the store, but we had not noticed any balance problems.

Still, we know what a fall means to an elderly person — often health deteriorates quickly — so we could not help feeling sad. We remembered how falls altered the playing field for my husband’s mother and father. Each fall meant a few days of hospitalization or at least bed rest, then a few complications after being confined to bed, and finally less mobility and confidence. This fact sheet, Seniors’ Falls Can Be Prevented, from Health Link in British Columbia shares some eye-opening facts about senior falls.

The store management was terrific. Two people sat right down on the floor with the woman while they waited for the rescue squad. No help was necessary from any of the shoppers, and the staff positioned her cart to shield her from the many people who passed by. Shortly thereafter an ambulance arrived. Continue reading

More on Seniors and Falling

Yesterday, May 13, 2010, the Los Angeles Times Booster Shots Blog reported yet more research on seniors and falling. This time the research comes from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, investigated how aging seniors in California follow their doctors’ medical recommendations after a fall. Check out the blog posting by Jeannine Stein for additional  information and explanation.

Of note in the report itself, but not in the blog posting, is a data chart that depicts what steps seniors said they took after a fall to help prevent other falls. Click on the graph to link to the report and a larger version of the graph. The UCLA report is titled Older Californians at Risk for Avoidable Falls.

Several days ago another friend’s mother fell, was taken to the hospital. As a result of her fall, her life is changing dramatically. Over the past eight months I have posted more on seniors, falling, and related fall prevention resources than almost any other subject. Many of those past As Our Parents Age posts are featured on the right side of this page under the heading Personal Fall Prevention.  Also, check out this link to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) page that describes the economic costs of older adult falls.