Saturday was the first day of fall and it was lovely, sunny and warm, here. How about where you live?
Also, in the United States, it was the tenth annual National Falls Prevention Day, sponsored by the National Council on Aging (NCOA) – always a good time to review one's habits and home for falling safety.
I write about fall prevention so frequently that you must know the U.S. statistics related to people 65 and older by now. The two most important are:
- An elder is treated for a fall in an emergency room every 13 seconds
- In 2016, 29,668 people in that age group died as the result of a fall
If that doesn't get your attention, in May, the Los Angeles Times, working with data from the Centers for Disease Control, reported an alarming increase in death from falls among elders:
”...falls ended the lives of 61.6 out of every 100,000 senior citizens [in 2016]. Back in 2007, there were 47 fall-related deaths for every 100,000 senior citizens. That means the mortality rate due to falls increased by 31% over the course of a decade...”
The Times attributes the increase to growing numbers of people living longer, and Kaiser Health News reports that one's 80th birthday is a warning sign of increased susceptibility to falling:
”Fear of falling — and the emotional and physical blowback from a fall — are part of turning 80.
“If you are in your 80s and living at home, the chance that you might fall in a given year grows more likely, said Kritchevsky...The study notes that the risk increases with age, making people in their 80s even more vulnerable.”
So this is a good time to do a home and personal inventory to reduce the possibility of falling. The biggest change I made this year is to give up ladders. I'm just not as sure-footed getting up and down on them, so time to stop.
This video, even with its brevity, covers almost everything you need to know about preventing falls.
This infographic from the NCOA covers similar ground:
And this is a list of websites about most of the hazards and preventions we should check for and correct once a year:
Just this week, Apple announced the release of its Series 4 Apple Watch that includes a fall detection algorithm. (It is also a blood pressure and heart rate monitor). Here is a photo:
Reports MobiHealth News,
”Apple's addition of fall detection is likely to be overshadowed by the ECG news, but it's also an impressive achievement...
"When the Watch detects the fall, it will give the user an opportunity to call an emergency contact. But if it detects that the user is immobile for one minute after the fall, it will automatically reach out to authorities using Apple's emergency alert system. It also sends a message to emergency contacts in that situation.”
Of course I have no idea how well this works – just letting you know it exists, among many other kinds of wearable falls detection devices. You will find one comparison list here.
On the other hand, if you're thinking this is too much ado about only one kind of elder danger (it isn't, but go with me on this for a moment), there is always this solution to taking a fall:
My apologies to the TGB reader who sent this cartoon – I forgot to make note of your name.