Would you believe that a common household accident kills more than 27,000 each year? What if I told you that if you’re 65 or older, you have a one in four chance of falling victim?
I’m talking about falls. Falling is the leading cause of death for folks over 65. And the number of folks who fall increases every year.
In a report from the National Center for Health Statistics, between 2000 and 2013, the number of deaths from falls rose from 29.6 per 100,000 people to 56.7. Falls account for 55% of all deaths from unintentional injuries. The next-largest cause? Car accidents, which account for only 14% of deaths.
And it’s not just costing lives. The expected financial burden for these falls will hit $67 billion by 2020 – that’s just three years away!
We’ve written about falls and fall prevention before, but it’s vital to keep these tips in mind and check in on your home and the homes of your loved ones.
And one of our top recommendations recently made news in the medical world…
Researchers from University of Jaén in Spain evaluated 10 studies involving seniors and at-home interventions for falls.
Overall, within a one-year follow-up period, those who practiced the balancing exercise tai chi saw a 43% reduction in falls when compared to things like regular exercise and physical therapy.
This is just one of the latest studies connecting the low-impact exercise with fewer falls. Tai chi focuses your breathing and takes you through a series of movements that you can do at your own pace. It keeps your body in motion and is safe for most people, including those 65 and older. It’s also an effective stress-buster.
Another good method to help prevent falls: weight-bearing exercise. As we mentioned in our essay about joint pain, research from the University of Missouri found that running and high-impact training in general helps build strong bones and fight osteoporosis. Stronger bones help keep you steady and lower the risk of fracture should you fall.
And another study from American Family Physician introduced simple weight-bearing exercise to folks in various retirement villages. These simple exercises improved walking distance and an overall drop in number of falls compared with the control group.
Exercise – both for balance (tai chi) and strength (weight-bearing) – is a great way to help prevent falls. Here are three other tips to help you fall-proof your home as well:
1) Invest in good shoes. Well-fitting shoes with non-slip soles are a great investment. That’s because shoes with slick soles contribute to falls, as does foot pain. Taking the time to find a good pair of comfortable shoes will not only help keep you safe, but will also alleviate your pain. Stores like The Walking Company offer foot measurement and evaluations for a range of shoes designed for older folks as well.
2) Pick up after your pets. While pets provide affection and relief from loneliness, about 86,000 fall injuries involve a dog or a cat, according to the Fall Prevention Coalition. But there are some things you can do to make your home safer without giving Fido away…
Make sure to keep your pet’s toys and food bowls away from areas where you walk. Keep the area around their water bowls dry to avoid slipping on any splashed water. Try a mat under the bowl with a rubber bottom to keep it in place and sop up any water.
Obedience training also helps keep your dogs from jumping or running past you on the steps. And as the Coalition recommends, try a small bell on your pet’s collar so you can hear it underfoot if you can’t see it.
3) Don’t forget the bathroom and hallways. Slip-proof the bathtub with a non-slip mat. These typically go for less than $20 on Amazon or at retailers like JC Penney or Bed Bath & Beyond.
And add grab bars for extra security. You can find them on Amazon if you’re a do-it-yourself installer, or you can hire someone to professionally install some for you.
Finally, add a night-light. As we get older, our vision tends to get worse in the dark. Adding night-lights along hallways and in bathrooms can help make walking at night safer.
Preventing falls now both with exercise and some simple household changes will keep you and your loved ones safe.
What We’re Reading…
- A handy checklist to fall-proof your home.
- Something different: Should you get inked?
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
Vancouver, British Columbia
September 21, 2017