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7/9/2013 - Slips and falls among elderly are a major source of injury

Accidental falls by seniors results in 2.3 million emergency room visits each year .

A new report reveals the high frequency with which today's elderly fall and hurt themselves, so much so that they often require professional medical services to fully heal.

According to the American College of Emergency Physicians, approximately 2.3 million seniors were treated in emergency medical centers in 2010 after slipping and falling. Of these, approximately 662,000 people had to be admitted for lengthy hospital stays, with 20% to 30% having moderate to severe injuries due to a broken hip, laceration or head trauma. In fact, falls are the most common cause for all brain injuries.

Andrew Sama, president of the ACEP, noted that people who have elderly friends, neighbors or family may think that the fall they sustained wasn't serious. All too often, though, the injuries turn out to be more severe than they may have looked when they first occurred.

"We see so many cases of people who appear to have a minor fall that result in a significant injury," said Sama. "The older you get the more vulnerable you are."

He added the caveat, though, that in virtually every instance, slips and falls can be prevented by making safety a priority.

For example, elderly who are able to live on their own or who have a caretaker may want to add grip bars in parts of the house where the risk of a fall is heightened, such as the staircase, bathtub or shower. Fluorescent light bulbs may want to be added to portions of a residence that are especially dark or dim, ACEP advises.

Exercising as regularly as possible is important as well. Core strengthening routines are very helpful in enabling people to find their center of balance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every three adults 65 years of age and older takes a fall each year. Business owners whose clientele is primarily seniors may want to account for this by purchasing professional insurance, which can protect them from liability should their customers be injured while on their property.

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