Falls are the number one cause of injuries and deaths among older people nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over seven million older Americans were injured in falls in 2014—a figure that appears to be on the rise.
Why Are Older Adults at High Risk for a Fall?
On average, falls contribute to 27,000 deaths and an estimated $31 billion in Medicare costs every year. About 60% of people will enter a nursing home or rehabilitation facility after a fall.
The likelihood of a fall increases as we age due to:
- Vision problems. Eye problems such as cataracts, glaucoma, astigmatism, and worsening visual acuity are common as we get older. Many falls occur when a person isn't wearing glasses, such as in the shower or when getting out of bed.
- Lack of exercise. A lack of physical activity weakens bones and muscles, making the body less flexible. Seniors who exercise regularly have a better ability to avoid fall hazards, prevent a fall after tripping, and recover quickly when a fall occurs.
- Medication use. Many prescription medications can affect balance, make people drowsy, or cause dizziness, impairing their ability to react to situations that may cause falls.
- Fall hazards. Older people are more likely to have tripping hazards build up if they can't move heavy objects, clean and maintain the home, or move freely between levels.
- Poor health. Chronic health conditions like diabetes can cause problems with both mobility and healing. Fall injury rates are several times higher for older adults with poor health than for those in good health.
Consequences of Senior Slip and Fall Injuries
Even if an older person is more likely to fall, this doesn't mean the accident is the senior’s fault. The sad truth is, most of these tragedies are entirely preventable. In most cases, there is something that someone—a landlord, apartment owner, or owner of a commercial property—could have done to stop the fall from happening. All people have the right to pursue compensation from a property owner whose negligence resulted in injuries, so it's vital to determine the cause of the accident as soon as possible.
Falls can cause painful consequences for victims, including:
- Head injuries. Traumatic brain injuries in the elderly may include concussions or permanent coma.
- Broken bones. Lost bone density in older adults makes bones more likely to snap or shatter in a fall. Broken hips may require surgical replacement or immobilization, increasing the risk of bedsores or hospital-acquired infections.
- Shoulder dislocation. A dislocated shoulder is extremely painful. It may require immediate intervention to set the shoulder, or surgery to pin the joint back in place.
- Knee injuries. Twisting sideways in a fall could damage the ligaments in the leg and make it impossible to bend the knee. If victims fall onto their knees, the impact could fracture or dislocate the kneecap.
- Sprained ankles or wrists. The instinct to “break” a fall by extending the arms is a common cause of sprained or broken wrists. People who “catch” their foot on a tripping hazard can overextend the joint, resulting in a sprained ankle.
- Extended healing times. No matter what injuries occur in a fall, older people will commonly take longer to heal than a younger person with the same injuries.
- Loss of independence. Victims who are unable to recover fully from a fall may be forced to enter a nursing home. At this point, you may want to or need to look towards Long-Term Medicaid to help pay for your stay. A good elder law attorney may be able to help you protect assets in this event.
You should not have to worry about paying for an attorney on top of worrying about your injury recovery. At DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, PA, you are not responsible for any of our fees or costs unless we recover damages. If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious accident, I will aggressively pursue your claim and cover any fees until you get the compensation you deserve. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to get answers to your questions.