Falls Can Kill — Stay STEADI
Falling can be deadly for any of us, but especially for people over 65 years of age. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) just issued a report outlining the danger and prevalence of falls in nursing homes and at home.
The numbers are scary: In 2014, falls caused 27,000 deaths and 7 million injuries. About 25 percent of older adults reported falling at least once in the last year.
So, falls are happening to many elderly. But are they just an inevitable part of aging? Not according to this report and a new program the CDC has recently launched.
The new program is called STEADI: Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths and Injuries. The program identifies fall risks and interventions to lower the risk of falls for both individuals and practitioners. It also offers education, practice guidelines and materials for practitioners.
For example, the CDC suggests three questions for health practitioners to ask their patients:
- Have you fallen in the past year?
- Do you feel unsteady when standing or walking?
- Do you worry about falling?
People who answer yes to any of these questions face an increased risk for falling, and the CDC recommends further assessment.
Some of the interventions include a review of all the medications a person is taking. Practitioners should eliminate unneeded medications and reduce those that affect balance and cognition. If a vitamin D deficiency exists, adding this vitamin will improve bone, muscle and nerve health.
Falls can be the beginning of the loss of independence — especially for our seniors. So I appreciate these simple efforts to reduce the risk of falls.