Falls are pervasive among people over age 65 in this country. Making this problem worse, the incidence of falls among people with hearing loss are three times greater than those with normal hearing when other risk factors are equated.
The Center for Disease Control reports that every second an older person in this country falls, making falls the number one cause of accidental injury and death in people over age 65.
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 new report published by the Centers for Disease Control.
In addition, falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injury in this country affecting 5.3 million who routinely suffer cognitive and physical impairments for months or years after the injury. Further, traumatic brain injury has been positively associated with epilepsy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease which often signal an end of an individual’s independence.
In an attempt to stem the tide of frequent falls in the elderly the Mayo Clinic group has offered the following advice:
- Discuss any fall you have with your doctor and have your medications checked for those which may be contributing to poor balance.
- Engage in physical activity such as walking to strengthen your legs and improve your balance.
- Wear sensible shoes to maintain better balance. High heels and socking feet are not recommended.
- Remove tripping hazards from the house such as loose rugs, loose wiring, phone cords, extension cords, immediately cleanup all water and oil spills when they occur and use rubber mats in the bathtub/shower with grab bars.
- Light up your living space with night lights in all walkways and a lamp near your bed. Use high illumination bulbs all over the house.
- Use handrails on both sides of all stairways and use nonslip surface on all wooden stairs. Occupational therapist can assist you in making your house fall proof.
In addition to these recommendations noted above, we are highlighting important strategies for fall prevention that go beyond those provided by the Mayo Clinic group. Join us at 2:30 to 4 PM on November 14th at Corvallis Good Samaritan Hospital Conference Room B where we will be offering a fall prevention workshop. The public is invited. No personal information will be taken, and free refreshments will be served.
At this November 14th meeting active people in their 70s, 80s and 90s will be discussing the strategies they have used to remain physically active, free of frailty and free of falls for years. In addition, our new book on Lifetime Physical Fitness will be made available to workshop participants for a nominal fee as frailty is highly associated with falls in contemporary research.
If you or a loved one are at risk for falls this conference is for you. For further information, contact Corvallis Hearing Center at 541- 754-1377.