Millions of our more seasoned citizens, aged 65 and wiser, find themselves in quite the predicament: takin’ a tumble they didn’t see comin’. Now, did you know that more than one in four of these fine folks has a fall every year? It’s true! But what’s got me a tad bit concerned is that less than half of ’em even bother tellin’ their doctor about it. Just one fall can double the chances of them takin’ another spill.
Falls are more than just a slip and a stumble, they are serious affairs.One out of five of these falls can lead to somethin’ downright dreadful, like broken bones or a head injury. That’s what’s sendin’ over 3 million of our older folks to emergency rooms each year, and more than 800,000 end up stuck in the hospital, can you believe it? That’s one senior hightailin’ it to the hospital every 11 seconds, as per the National Council on Aging. It’s head injuries and hip fractures causin’ the most fuss, with at least 300,000 of our older folks landin’ in the hospital for hip fractures each year. Over 95% of them hip fractures come from falls, mostly when they’re takin’ a sideways tumble? Falls also take the cake as the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. Every 19 minutes, one of our seasoned folks meets their maker due to a fall. Last year alone, we lost 3,893 fine Arkansans to these mishaps.
Injuries due to fallin’ can cause financial hardships for our geriatric crowd and their families. The medical bills for these falls reached a staggering $50 billion in 2022, with Medicare and Medicaid carryin’ 75% of that load.
But, honey, don’t you fret none, ’cause we’re fixin’ to talk about what we can do. Many of these falls have what we call “risk factors,” and we can wrangle ’em in to keep our folks safe and sound. These risk factors include:
● Lower body weakness
● Vitamin D deficiency decreases the bone mineral density and the strength of the bones, hence, increasing the chances of instability on mobility and increasing the chances of falls.
● Troubles with walkin’ and balance
● Medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can make a person feel a mite unsteady.
● Vision issues
● Foot discomfort or poor footwear

● Home hazards or dangers such as broken or uneven steps, throw rugs, or clutter that can trip you up.
● Most falls happen when a combination of these risk factors comes into play. The more risk factors a person has, the likelier they are to take a tumble.
We’re fortunate to have plenty of activities and groups for our seniors right here in our neck of the woods. Sharp County and all neighboring counties have a special place for our
elders. We owe a huge thanks to our local Senior Centers.They offer meals, fellowship, games, entertainment, exercise, and even travel. They are workin’ to ensure that Arkansas remains a safe place for our more wise residents to enjoy their golden years.
Our fine healthcare providers are here to lend a hand in reducin’ these risk factors and makin’ sure our seniors keep their feet firmly planted.
Additional helpful tips and resources can be found at:
https://www.cdc.gov/stillgoingstrong/ https://www.ncoa.org/article/falls-prevention-programs-saving-lives-saving-money-infographict
https://www.cdc.gov/stillgoingstrong/

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Crystal Shackelford, APRN