How to prevent the leading cause of injury death

Falls are the leading cause of injury death for Americans 65 years and older. Every year about 35-40 percent of adults 65 and older fall at least once. Among those that fall, 20-30 percent suffer moderate to severe injuries, including fractures and head trauma.

Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, develop a fear of falling. This fear of falling causes a decrease in activity, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and actually increases their actual risk of falling.

Amy had a chance to sit down with Dr. Jeremy Osmond, Director of Rehab at Orchard Park Post-Acute Rehab, to find out more about what we can do to prevent falling. Jeremy compiled an action plan into four easy-to-remember tips using the acronym, MESH.

 

Medications: Be mindful of medications. Some medications and/or combinations of medications can cause dizziness or drowsiness. These side effects are directly related to falls. Have a doctor or pharmacist look at your medication list to determine if you are at risk of these possible side effects.

Exercise: Get some exercise. Even just getting out and walking or doing mild but consistent exercise programs will increase your general lower extremity strength and make falls much less likely.

Sharp: Keep your vision sharp. Poor vision can make it very difficult to get around safely. Make sure to have your eyes checked annually and follow the recommendations given to you for glasses or contacts to ensure you are seeing clearly.

Hazards: Eliminate hazards at home. About 50 percent of falls happen in homes. A home safety check can help identify potential fall hazards, such as tripping hazards, clutter, and poor lighting. My therapy team at Orchard Park would be delighted to do a home hazard safety check. Contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like a team member to come in and perform this safety check.

To prevent falling, make sure to remember "MESH" and contact Orchard Park @ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free home safety inspection.

Greg and Amy's Recommendation: Staying physically active and exercising will help prevent falls and injuries to you, keeping you safe. Exercise is also extremely important in order to stay independent. The No. 1 reason, in some studies, that people move into an assisted living facility is because they cannot get out of a chair by themselves. As such, we recommend that aging individuals focus on strengthening their lower extremities primarily. See Drosmond.com for a video clip of Jeremy Osmond teaching suggested exercises you can do in your home.