Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones From Falls

By Northern Virginia Fall Prevention Coalition

When it comes to protecting your health and the health of your loved ones, fall prevention should be a top priority. Many people mistakenly believe that the risk of falls is only a concern for those aged 60 and older. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 35 percent and 40 percent of all emergency room visits for fall-related injuries involve school-age children, weekend do-it-yourselfers, amateur athletes, and even individuals who have tripped over the family pet. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths. In 2008 alone, approximately two million adults 70 and older were the victims of falls.

Injuries associated with falls cause challenges both for the injured individual as well as his/her family caregiver. Fall-related injuries can limit independent living. For example, someone who breaks a leg as a result of a fall may now need help walking, bathing, and going up and down stairs. All of this, of course, adds to the duties of the family caregiver. Just the fear of falling can result in a limitation in activity and that alone may lead to more responsibilities for the family caregiver.

What can families do to reduce the risk of falls for everyone in the home? As a family, use these basic guidelines to safe proof your home and to safeguard your family:­

Check out the National Family Caregiver Association website for more information!

NEWS: Fear not. Anxiety over falling can lead to more falls

An elderly person’s fear of falling can actually exacerbate underlying physical conditions, creating a “vicious circle,” which could lead to a greater risk of falling, according to a new report.

Gait disturbances, or difficulty walking as a result of old age, often have many causes, according to the researchers from the Neurological Hospital and Health Center of the Ludwig Maximilians University in Germany. These can include visual defects, neurodegeneration of the motor cortex, taking medication or drinking alcohol, and anxiety over falls. Those elderly individuals who are afraid of falling typically restrict their own movements, inadvertently worsening the physical conditions they may have, and contributing to a greater risk of falls. The prevalence of anxiety-related gait disturbances in elderly patients could be as high as 85%, according to the report.

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