This week’s trivia question was whether older adults with access to phones were at a lower risk for falls. The answer is, true!
Normal aging processes can have a negative affect on a person’s muscle strength, bones, and balance. Each year there are over 800,000 people hospitalized due to fall injuries (CDC, 2016) and millions of individuals 65 and older are treated in emergency rooms due to falls (Florence et al., 2018). One cost estimate puts falls at a $50 billion in healthcare expenditures (Florence). That’s billion…with a “b”. It’s estimated that Medicare expends $29 billion annually due to falls.
While not all falls are preventable, it is known that the risk for falls can be dramatically reduced or prevented through evidence-based programs, which are available through Iowa’s aging network, through exercise, and through simple, inexpensive home modifications. Iowa’s aging network can help older adults connect with evidence-based programs such as Matter of Balance, Stepping On, and Tai Chi for Arthritis.
Watch a Matter of Balance video here (https://vimeo.com/188676085).
Watch a Tai Chi for Arthritis video here (https://vimeo.com/191721663).
Watch a Stepping On video here (https://vimeo.com/191721662).
Contact your local Area Agency on Aging to find out about these programs as well as any innovative programs that they might have available.
Simple home modifications can also reduce the risk of a fall. Adding no-slip mats under rugs, or even removing rugs altogether, is a simple change that can prevent a fall. Adding rails to the sides of showers, aside a toilet, and other places where balance can be compromised.
And, yes, having phones nearby can also prevent falls. While the fear of falling may prevent older adults from being mobile or active, they also need to make decisions that may create a risk for a fall, such as toileting, taking a shower/bath, or navigating steps. With access to a phone, older adults are more likely to call someone for assistance if they fear falling or need to do an activity that requires balance, and therefore preventing a potential fall. The additional benefit to phone access is if an older adult does fall, an emergency call can be made to get assistance.
Thank you for participating in this week’s trivia question, which was posted on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for the latest in aging network news and updates.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, [online]. Accessed Feb. 22, 2019.
Florence, C.S., Bergen, G., Atherly, A., Burns, E.R., Drake, C. (2018). Medical costs of fatal and nonfatal falls in older adults. Journal of American Geriatrics Society, March.