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Why are twice as many seniors dying from preventable falls?

According to a recent study published by JAMA, a notable medical journal, more than twice as many seniors died from falls in 2016 than in 2000. Is your loved one at risk for becoming one of them?

Who reported this information?

JAMA researchers dove into cause of death records held by the National Center for Health Statistics. Some of these researchers included scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose responsibility it is to study, analyze and report on causes of deaths to help improve safety standards worldwide.

They found the following:

  • In 2000, 52 out of every 100,000 people over 75 years old died from a slip and fall.
  • In 2006, 111 out of every 100,000 people over 75 years old died from a slip and fall.
  • Women were slightly more likely to fall than men.
  • Men are slightly more likely to die after a fall.

The study could not find one single culprit common to all cases, but rather a web of factors contributed to the fatality of a fall. However, it also found that many falls are preventable when people take steps to reduce their vulnerability to these factors.

How can you help them avoid a fall?

You might find that your loved one is frustrated by their deteriorating strength or independence. You might have heard them resist doctor's orders because something makes them "feel old." However, these orders could make all the difference.

The following are ways you can help your loved one avoid a fall:

  • Encourage them to exercise. Tai chi or weight lifting classes twice a week can significantly improve balance, strength, coordination and mobility.
  • Encourage them to use a cane or walker. These devices can keep them independent and therefore keep their spirits (and bodies) up.
  • Encourage them to use bifocals sparingly. Bifocals can cause an abrupt change in depth perception, which can be dangerous when walking near a tripping hazard
  • Avoid high heels, and flat, slippery shoes. Choose comfortable shoes with deep treads over fashionable ones.
  • Avoid or carefully monitor medications that affect balance. Sleep aids often include ingredients that can make you dizzy during the day.

It is important that everyone involved in caring for your loved one understands the risks. Doing so may help prevent falls and keep everyone safe.

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