The United States is spending nearly $50 billion annually on medical costs arising from falls among older adults. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans 65 and older. Falls threaten seniors' safety and independence as well as generating large economic and personal costs.
However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through lifestyle modifications, evidence-based falls prevention programs, and clinic-community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be greatly reduced. Evidence-based fall prevention programs, such as Tai Chi, Stepping On, Matter of Balance and Walk With Ease offer cost-effective interventions by reducing or eliminating risk factors, offering treatments that promote behavior change, and leveraging community networks to link clinical treatment and community services.
Some key areas for seniors and their caretakers to focus on is: balance and gait, hearing and/or vision loss, multiple medications that may have drug interactions or side effects of dizziness, home environment (throw rugs, stacked papers, cords, etc), and chronic conditions like diabetes, stroke, or arthritis that can off lead to an increased risk of falling because they result in lost function, inactivity, depression, pain, or multiple medications.
Falls, with or without injury, also carry a heavy quality of life impact. A growing number of older adults have a fear of 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.