Every year, 1 in 4 Americans age 65 or older falls, according to the National Council on Aging. For older Americans, falls are the leading cause of fatal injuries and of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions. By 2020, the cost of treating fall injuries in the United States is expected to top $67 billion annually.
However, suffering a fall-related injury does not have to be part of aging. Physical therapists can help their senior citizen patients lessen their risk of falling through simple, painless exercises. As a result, patients can live safer, more active lives for years to come.
Why are seniors at risk?
As we age, we are more at risk for falls, due to several health-related conditions:
▪ Chronic illnesses can lead to overall frailty or specific physical impairments. For example, diabetes can cause nerve problems in the feet and legs, making it easier for someone to stumble.
▪ Dementia can make it more difficult to pay attention to environmental factors, such as a step down when moving from one room to another.