Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

Falls are the leading cause of injury among older Americans

About 1 in 4 U.S. adults 65 and older — more than 14 million people — suffer a fall each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Falls are the leading cause of injury among those 65 and older, even though not all falls result in an injury, the CDC says. About 37 percent of older people who have fallen have sustained an injury that required medical treatment or activity restrictions. For instance, the CDC reports that 95 percent of hip fractures result from a fall, and falls also are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.

The National Institute on Aging notes that the odds of falling increase with age, but falls often can be prevented. Standard suggestions include fall-proofing your home space (making sure all stairs have hand rails and are well-lit, eliminating most throw rugs and keeping walk spaces clutter-free), careful management of medications (especially those that can cause dizziness or confusion), having regular vision checks and staying as active as possible (including doing exercises to maintain strength and balance).

The World Health Organization recommends that adults undertake 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, which can help prevent falls, among other benefits.

A study of more than 7,139 older Australian women, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that those who adhered to the WHO activity recommendation were less likely to fall, with or without injury, than those who were less active.

The National Institute on Aging notes, however, that many older adults develop a fear of falling, which can lead to their becoming less active and then at higher risk of falling.

This article is part of The Post’s “Big Number” series, which takes a brief look at the statistical aspect of health issues. Additional information and relevant research are available through the hyperlinks.

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