Seniors should take it one step at a time, literally

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Falls are the leading cause of injury among people over the age of 65, and according to the CDC, it affects one in three adults each year. Jack Mills, a continuous quality improvement specialist for the Lake County Health Department’s Population Health Services, emphasizes that falls have “really a life-altering and quality-of-life-altering impact on older people,” which is why the Lake County Health Department established a Falls Prevention Task Force to disseminate prevention and awareness pamphlets to seniors.

This is a huge problem among our senior citizens. More than 50 percent of Lake County seniors hospitalized for a hip fracture after a fall must go to a nursing facility or rehab clinic before returning home. And 20 percent will die within a year of sustaining the injury.

These grim statistics highlight how devastating falls can be, especially in older women who have lower bone mineralization, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. “Older patients hospitalized for fall-related injuries often never return to independent living and are at risk of losing further muscle mass and strength, or suffering from bedsores, infection and pneumonia due to extended bedridden stays in hospitals.”

So how can elderly people prevent falls to begin with? Simple initiatives, like exercising and staying hydrated, are a good start. In addition, regular eye exams and discussing certain dizziness-inducing medications with your doctor will help. Avoiding loose-fitting clothing that can easily be tripped on, installing railings and shower bars in the home, using night lights and avoiding clutter on the floor, such as rugs and electrical wires, are all important measures that should be taken as well.