What’s the leading cause of death for adults over the age of 65 and what can we do to prevent it? Trina Radske-Suchan, PT, Medical Program Executive at the YMCA Healthy Living Center, offers action steps to take care of yourself and loved ones.
Every 15 seconds an older adult is treated in an emergency department for a fall-related injury, and every 29 minutes an older adult dies from a fall. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, fall‐related injuries and deaths are on the rise in Iowa. Falls are the second leading cause of injury death, behind motor vehicle crashes, and for those over the age of 65, they’re the leading cause of death. The total charges for fall-related hospitalizations in our state average $92 million per year. In addition to medical costs, falls contribute to a decreased ability to perform household tasks, a reduced quality of life and oftentimes a loss of independence for older adults.
Whether you’re an older adult yourself or you care for a loved one, you can take steps to prevent such accidents. Between the ages of 46-65, one in four adults report falling at least once in the past two years. Middle age is where we begin to show higher incidences of disease processes occurring in the body. We also see an increase in medication use, decreasing levels of physical activity and physiological changes in our center of gravity which alter stability.
Many of these physiological and environmental factors can be minimized with adjustments to your routine, like starting a regular physical activity program that focuses on functional exercise and balance training. Start adopting fall prevention practices with a few of these action steps:
Commit to doing at least one of these things in the next week, and then continue building up your fall prevention arsenal step by step. What has helped you feel more stable and healthy as you age? Share your story in the comments!
Statistics from Iowa Department of Public Health, Policy Brief on Falls