While a fall at any age can result in severe injury, those over the age of 65 are more likely to fall and are particularly susceptible to catastrophic injuries. In fact, falls are the leading cause of death among older adults. And for those fortunate enough to survive their fall, serious injuries are commonly experienced, including traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, fractured hips, and spinal cord injuries.
Some of the statistics about older adult falls are startling. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Each year, one out of four Americans aged 65 or over falls.
- Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall.
- Every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
- Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of non-fatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
- Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
Fortunately, there are steps older adults can take to prevent falls. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently published new recommendations for averting falls in senior adults. The USPSTF is a volunteer panel of experts in disease prevention that makes evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventative services.
The USPSTF considered three different recommendations for preventing falls in community-dwelling adults over the age of 65 years:
- Exercising to work on gait, balance, and strengthening muscles in the legs.
- Creating customized plans for fall prevention that are based on individual risk assessments. Factors that might be addressed include balance and gait, psychological health, cognition, vision, environmental conditions, diet and nutrition, and medications.
- Taking vitamin D supplements under the theory that vitamin D will protect against fall-related injuries.
According to the USPSTF, exercise therapy is highly recommended because it provides the most benefit for decreasing falls as well as injury from falls. Multifactorial interventions (customized plans) were recommended for those who have a history of falling and are at increased risk for falls. Finally, vitamin D supplements were found not to be effective at preventing falls and were not recommended.
What can you do if you or a loved one is injured in a fall? While some falls happen at home, many others occur elsewhere, including places like nursing homes, hospitals, parking lots, shopping centers and other public areas. These property owners may be responsible for such injuries under premises liability law.
According to premises liability law, all property owners have a duty to keep their property in safe condition to prevent harm to others. If property owners fail to fulfill these duties, they can be held accountable and be required to compensate individuals injured by owner negligence.
Falls can be both dangerous and scary. If you or a loved one was injured in a fall, consult a personal injury attorney to find out your right to sue for compensation for the harm you suffered. The Evans Law Firm understands how devastating injuries from falls can be and will take quick action to build a compelling case. Contact us for a free consultation and to learn how we can help.