Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors' safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs.
However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinical-community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
One-third of Americans aged 65 and older fall each year.
Every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 20 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
Falls result in more than 2.5 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 734,000 hospitalizations and more than 21,700 deaths.
In 2013, the total cost of fall injuries was $34 billion.
The financial toll for older adult falls is expected to increase as the population ages and may reach $67.7 billion by 2020.
Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults fear falling and, as a result, limit their activities and social engagements. This can result in further physical decline, depression, social isolation, and feelings of helplessness.
The main goal is to educate older adults and their families about the seriousness of falls and ways to reduce the risks of falling.
The first step is to have a Fall Risk Evaluation to determine a person’s risk factors for falling and then modify those risk factors which ultimately will help prevent a person from falling.
Some of the more common risk factors that we see in our practice include muscle weakness, gait disorders including drop foot, balance disorders (often seen in patients with diabetes who develop numbness in their feet), and arthritis. We then develop a custom treatment plan to modify these risk factors which ultimately helps to decrease a patient’s chance of falling. However one of biggest risk factors for falling is a previous fall or fear of falling.
We commonly use Balance Devices known as Ankle Foot Orthotics to help improve ankle joint stabilization, decrease swaying when standing, increase arch support, decrease foot pain and increase confidence.
We also work closely with physical and occupational therapists and the patient’s primary care physician when other general medical/physical risk factors are identified.
Take The Test...
I have fallen in the past year. Yes (2) No (0)
I use or have been advised to use a cane or walker to get around safely. Yes (1) No (0)
Sometimes I feel unsteady when I am walking. Yes (1) No (0)
I steady myself by holding onto furniture when walking at home. Yes (1) No (0)
I am worried about falling. Yes (1) No (0)
I need to push with my hands to stand up from a chair .Yes (1) No (0)
I have some trouble stepping up onto a curb. Yes (1) No (0)
I often have to rush to the toilet. Yes (1) No (0)
I have lost some feeling in my feet. Yes (1) No (0)
I take medicine that sometimes makes me feel light-headed or more tired than usual. Yes (1) No (0)
I take medicine to help me sleep or improve my mood. Yes (1) No (0)
I often feel sad or depressed. Yes (1) No (0)
Add up the number of points for each “yes” answer. If you scored 4 points or more, you may be at risk for falling and should have a Fall Risk Evaluation to determine your risk factors and what can be done to modify these risk factors to help prevent you from falling.
Dr. Ron Freireich, one of the principal partners in our practice is available to perform Fall Risk Evaluations at the Beachwood location (216.591.1905) or the Middleburg Heights location (440.243.1473).