We’re getting older. All of America , that is. Today, people 75 and older are the fastest growing population group in the country. And, as the Baby Boomer generation ages, we’ll have a host of new medical concerns on our hands. But one worry will stay the same: the deadly danger of slip-and-fall accidents .
Each year, 1 in 3 Americans aged 65 and older take a spill. 30% of those individuals require medical treatment as a result. The most common warning you’ll hear is “Be careful, you don’t want to break a hip!” And while bone density is clearly a concern among the elderly, it’s brain injury that was highlighted by the most recent CDC study . Why? Deaths from slip-and-fall accidents have increased 55% since the 1990s; brain injuries are the biggest (and often silent) culprit.
As fellow Injury Board member Kristina Labanauskas reported, every 35 minutes, a senior citizen dies from a slip-and-fall injury. As CNN points out , brain injuries are common due to the fragility of elderly veins and arteries. If a fall results in a blow to the head, a vein or artery can easily tear and cause a fatal brain bleed. The blood thinners used by many seniors only exacerbate this risk.
It’s important to know that brain injuries are often not immediately apparent upon falling. Unlike a severe bone break, the brain injury may initially go unnoticed, as consciousness may be kept for a few hours. Brain injuries account for about 8% of non-fatal fall injuries in the hospital.
As CNN explains , there are some things that elderly people can do to decrease their chances of suffering a spill: “ There are several steps older Americans can take to try to prevent falls. Exercise can increase leg strength and balance. Glasses or other vision correction measures can help people avoid obstacles. And being careful with the use of drugs that can affect thinking and coordination — such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills — can also make a difference.”
But some slip-and-falls are not preventable. Some injuries are a result of other’s negligence. It’s up to all of us to remember that we have a responsibility to keep our property safe; otherwise, we might have a Bork situation on our hands. Remember that while slip-and-falls may just be commonplace clumsiness for you and me, for our aging neighbors, drops can be be deadly.