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  • Cameron Oglesby

How to prevent a major cause of seniors’ deaths

Updated: May 29, 2023

Mention leading causes of older Americans’ deaths, and heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and kidney failure come to mind. But there’s another that doesn’t.

It’s falls.

Falls are the leading cause of injury and among the leading causes of death among older adults in the US,” a new research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports.

In 2020, more than 36,500 Americans 65 and older died of a fall-related injury. That’s more than triple the approximately 10,100 deaths from the same cause in 1999.

Part of the reason for this increase is demographic, with so many of the Baby Boomers (born 1946-64) having entered their sixties and beyond.

Another part is the way aging can affect vision, physical strength, and sense of balance.

But yet another factor is that “fall prevention is not something we talk about a lot,” says the study’s author, Alexis Santos-Lozada, assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State. More and more older Americans take a fall every year, and most don’t even tell their doctor unless severe pain or injury forces them to.

Thanks to modern medicine, more and more Americans are living to survive heart attacks and strokes, whose aftereffects can increase the risk of falls.

More and more older adults now take more and more different prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Side effects and drug interactions can cause dizziness and loss of balance, contributing to falls.

Deteriorating eyesight and bad lighting can make objects you can trip over harder to see and avoid. And ear problems can affect not only hearing, but also sense of balance.

Too many one-size-fits-all senior care agencies don’t address these issues.

· Helping you make your home safer, with grab bars in bathrooms, handrails on both sides of staircases, enough lighting to see where you’re going, and removing small rugs and other objects that could turn your home into an obstacle course.

· If needed, having an occupational therapist safety-check your home and surroundings and the way you navigate them.

· Monitoring your health weekly, to discover any changes.

· Accompanying you to doctor visits, to make sure your doctors know about any health changes our weekly monitoring discovered, to make sure they all have your up-to-date health information, and to have them cross-check your prescription and OTC meds for side effects or interactions.

No two plans are exactly alike, because no two people are exactly alike. But each is based on our thorough three-part needs assessment – where we learn from you and your family about everything from your health, cognitive and psychosocial needs to your schedule, hobbies, interests, activities and social life.

Please contact us to learn more.

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