Trauma centers across the United States see a lot of life-threatening injuries. One of the most common are falls. Every year, 49% of the traumatic injuries seen at Huntington Hospital are head injuries or hip fractures caused by slip-and-fall accidents. In fact, unintentional injury is the seventh leading cause of death for adults 65 and older nationwide.
The good news is that 100% of traumatic injuries are preventable. Prevention education is crucial to avoiding traumatic injuries.
Some procedures and conditions can increase injury vulnerability from falls, such as:
- Cardiac history, like high blood pressure, open-heart surgery, stents and pacemakers, can require medications that can affect balance and cognitive function.
- Vision conditions, such as cataracts and prescription changes, can affect the ability to see hazards.
Certain medications can cause side effects that can make an otherwise innocuous injury fatal:
- Blood thinners affect blood clotting, so a fall can cause life-threatening bleeds (hemorrhages) in the brain or other organs.
- Blood pressure medication can cause dizziness with a sudden change in body position and can cause serious falls.
In addition to these age-related risks, human factors put seniors at risk for traumatic injury. The No. 1 factor behind falling for seniors is poor lighting when walking down stairs or on uneven surfaces.
Knowing how to prevent injury is crucial to aging safely and independently. For more information about resources for older adults, visit: huntingtonhealth.org/seniorcarenetwork.
Sources: National Vital Statistics System, National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.