SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - One in four Americans, 65 and older, falls each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Just under half of the 345,000 adults who live in Sarasota County are seniors.
Staff at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Trauma Center said falls are among the most common injury, second only to injuries from car crashes. Doctors see about 4,000 injured patients at the Trauma Center per year and about 60 percent of them involve falls.
“I’m walking over to my car and all of a sudden, I’m out," remembered Arthur Penn.
A strong gust of wind was all it took to knock the 86-year-old off his feet.
“It’s been a very crazy past year and a half because he had a hip replacement, he ended up getting an infection which threw him back a few steps, and after all that, we did some in-home rehab," explained his health care giver, Misty Eblin.
Now, Penn is finally at Fyzical Therapy & Balance Centers, serving as living proof that recovery is possible.
“We use safety overhead rails and we use different types of equipment in the facility to challenge their balance," explained Brian Werner, national director for Fyzical Balance Programs. "So the rails allow us to protect the patient so when they’re challenging their balance, they’re safe. And the more that you challenge your balance in a safe environment, just like a muscle, it’ll respond by giving them better balance.”
Just this month, the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging released a report on fall prevention. It said the risk of falling increases with age and common risk factors include changes in muscle strength, a deterioration of vision, arthritis and dementia.
In fact, every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated for a fall and every 19 minutes one dies as a result of the fall.
“Every year, the medicare system is spending about $50 billion a year just on falls," Werner added.
So how do you prevent this from hurting someone you love?
The experts say review medications since numerous prescriptions could increase dizziness or loss of balance. They also recommend you inspect the home, or hire someone to come in to do identify the tripping hazards like cords, rugs, pet bowls or clutter.
Seniors should also reorganize their homes for easy access. Anything they use on a daily basis like dishes, towels or laundry detergent should be easy to reach.
Making sure the home is well lit and the stairs are steady with handrails is important, too. A chair in the shower is a good idea to help support a senior who could lose their balance.
For more information about fall prevention from the Sarasota Memorial Hospital, click here.
The hospital is hosting two upcoming lectures titled Fall Prevention 101 for Caregivers and Fall Prevention and Medications. Fall Prevention 101 is scheduled for Wednesday, November 6. For more information, click here. Fall Prevention and Medications is scheduled for Wednesday, November 13th. For more information on that, click here.