Falls and Older Adults

Monday, April 12, 2010

More than one-third of adults 65 and older fall each year in the United States. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults and they are also the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. Dr. Edward Hill discusses some of the reasons why older adults fall in todays 60 Second Housecall.

Dr. Hill:

Falls are the leading cause of deaths related to injury among people 65 years and older. More than one-third will fall each year; two-thirds of those who fall will fall again within six months. Although falling is not normal, older people are more likely to fall because of sensory changes, bones that are less dense, slower reflexes and reduced strength. These changes affect walking and balance.

Falls have many causes. Common causes include gait and balance problems, neurological and musculoskeletal problems, use of medications affecting balance, impaired thinking and memory and impaired vision. Environmental hazards such as slippery floors, uneven surfaces, stairs, poor lighting and loose rugs can also cause falls.

Many older adults fail to exercise regularly, resulting in poor muscle tone, decreased strength and loss of bone mass and flexibility, which make it easier to fall.

If you do fall, you should be seen by a doctor. Head injuries may not cause symptoms right away and are especially important to evaluate promptly.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Im Dr. Edward Hill.