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Falls Among Older Adults

According to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of three adults aged 65 and older, fall each year and yet less than half of those talk to their healthcare provider about it. Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in this age group and account for more than 2.5 million emergency department visits each year in the U.S. Alarmingly, the rate of death from falls in older adults has risen dramatically in the past decade. In addition to the individual pain and suffering caused by falls, it is estimated that the total direct cost of fall injuries was approximately $13 billion in 2013.

The CDC has compiled several documents presenting fall data along with recommendations for assessing risk and preventing falls.  

Ways that older adults can help to prevent falls:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Review medications with their healthcare providers
  • Have regular vision exams
  • Make homes safer by removing tripping hazards; installing grab bars in showers, tubs, and next to toilets; adding railing on both sides of stairways; and improving lighting in their homes

Some of the CDC recommendations for healthcare providers to help reduce fall risk:

  • Implement community-wide fall prevention programs
  • Assess patients 65 years of age and older at every visit
  • Take a fall history
  • Review all medical conditions
  • Review patients medications
  • Assess gait, strength, and balance
  • Provide vision screening and refer as needed
  • Check for postural hypotension

You can read the full CDC documents and guidelines on the CDC website here or access the CDC materials here.

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