Falls leading cause of deadly injuries among Florida senior citizens

The leading cause of fatal injuries among seniors in Florida is accidental falls.

We hear scores of requests to send first responders to assist folks who have fallen throughout the whole night on the assignment desk scanners at WPTV.

The In-Depth crew at WPTV began investigating the reasons why it occurs so often and what you can do to defend yourself or an elderly loved one.

Laurel Miller has had a few slips and falls as a result of her rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. She claimed her kid was concerned.

Miller recalled the conversation, “We were at the stage where he was talking to me about maybe needing to buy some lifts for you, a pushchair.” I reasoned that I couldn’t and didn’t want to do it just yet.

In actuality, falls rank as the second most common service request for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue. It is the most popular call in Delray Beach.

According to Travis Franco, the deputy fire chief and fire marshal for Delray Beach, “if we’re transporting a fall call, it’s a significant scenario.”

Many of these reactions in South Florida begin with a call from a distant relative.

Hey, I’ve been trying to call my mom for the past couple of hours, Franco predicted. I am unable to reach her.

According to data from the Area Agency on Aging, falls caused 250 fatalities, approximately 5,000 hospital admissions, and 14,000 trips to emergency rooms in Palm Beach County in 2020.

According to Diane Lundstedt, a tai chi for seniors teacher with the Area Agency on Aging, “Once you take that first fall, then you’re terrified.”

The nonprofit in Palm Beach and the Treasure Coast provides workshops and events for elders to help decrease that dread.

Since starting the tai chi class, Laurel claimed, she has avoided mistakes that might cause her to fall.

Miller advised “keeping the step in mind, placing the toes up and putting the heel down first.” This prevents us from stumbling over tree roots or potentially raised sidewalk sections.

Seniors who successfully complete the program are 52% less likely to fall, according to Maureen McCarthy, head of the Area Agency on Aging’s healthy living program.

McCarthy replied, “We all know the shuffle. Once you begin to shuffle when walking, you have ceased engaging the muscles in your ankles.

Exercise frequently, have your vision checked once a year, make your home environment safer (i.e., no loose rugs or slippery floors), and discuss with a doctor any medications that could make you weak or dizzy are additional ways to lower the risk of falling, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Falling may result in severe health issues, and sometimes, the consequences can even be worse.

About one in four Americans over 65 fall each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the CDC, more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. Living independently after a hip fracture is improbable and the recovery process is challenging.

After a fall, McCarthy said, “a person’s health often declines permanently.”

McCarthy emphasized the need of early family involvement in helping elders avoid falls.

Family members often don’t ask, “Oh, what should we be doing?” until after a fall, according to McCarthy.

David Anafi takes part in the senior tai chi lesson. His vertigo caused a catastrophic fall that altered the way he moved about his house and contributed to his condition.

As you age, you may fall, but you never, ever understand it, Anafi remarked. “I was pretty conscious throughout the years.”

Younger folks, he said, are not aware of the dangers present near their parents’ or elder relatives’ residences; although mobility and response time are important, hazards also play a part.

First responders advise cleaning up your property; wires and cords shouldn’t be placed close to pathways. Use grips to secure loose rugs after that. To prevent slipping, bathroom railings may also be installed.

McCarthy remarked, “Family members need to assist offer the additional little push.”

Consider giving a loved one a smartwatch that can detect a fall and phone for assistance if they won’t utilize a system like Life Alert.

She said, “Normally, it’s not the fall that puts that person in the worst condition; it’s generally just from being on the floor for hours and not being able to get up.

She added that tripping over pets is another frequent reason for falls. McCarthy advised being always aware of where your pet is located within your house.

The Area Agency on Aging offers free programs, and if you are unable to attend in person, they are also available online. To see future events, click here.

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