Recent research among older Americans dying from falls show that the numbers are increasing. When older Americans fall it most often results in injury to the brain and hip fractures which often leads to death. And the numbers in deaths due to a fall have tripled. Records show that over 25,000 deaths from falls occur annually.
Another study of older people in America encourage the importance of improving muscle strength and balance to prevent falls.
Both studies show that fall prevention is very important to the lives of our older citizens. And both studies were published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
The data gathered did not include circumstances for the falls but revealed that brain injuries and hip fractures lead to the high rise in health decline which in turn leads to the cause of death in older people who fall.
Elizabeth Burns, who is a study co-author and health scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) injury center, gives reasons for this increase in deaths from falls: older people are living longer; they’re living independently longer; and living with chronic health conditions longer.
Burns also says that some of the medications that older adults are taking can influence their tendency towards falling.
The first study conducted looked at data gathered over a 16 year period for adults 75 years old. The increase in fatal falls from 2000 to 2016 is shocking. The count rose from 8,600 to 25,190. Almost a 16,600 increase – over a thousand deaths per year averaged out. And in 2017 it did not get any better with an increase of over 1250 deaths from falls.
Fall prevention needs to be promoted among older Americans, and this is also reflected in data compiled for older people in the Netherlands and cross Europe.
The study encouraging fall prevention showed that three different types of exercising helped to reduce the risks of falling. Exercises that strengthen muscles are important in reducing the likelihood of falling such as weight-bearing, balance and resistance exercises.
The exercise program in the second study involved exercising at home for a year three times a week for half of the participants. The other half just had usual care. Those who participated in an exercise program had the guidance of a physical therapist for five sessions. The daily exercises included leg lifts while seated and standing, knee bends, and walking backwards. The program also included walking half an hour three times a week. There was a marked difference in those who exercised and those who didn’t. There were over 130 more falls in the group who did not exercise.
Dr. Marco Pahor who is with the University of Florida’s aging and geriatric research department, wrote an accompanying journal editorial for the second study, and he said that many communities offer fall prevention programs at senior centers and that senior American adults can go to the National Council on Aging online which offers tips.