Are you falling? Or not?

Created date

January 4th, 2018
graphic icon of person losing balance

Falls are a major threat to the health and well-being of seniors. New information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that over 800,000 people are hospitalized for falls each year, and 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. In addition, falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries. 

Delayed detection

Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, discovered that seniors have a delayed perception of falling. In fact, their study showed that adults over age 60 take twice as long as younger adults to detect that they are falling. This means that by the time seniors realize they are on the way down, their protective reflexes cannot safeguard them in time. The lag time in perception could be due in part to age-related changes in the nervous system, such as the brain’s decreased ability to process sensory information.

Scientists hope these findings will help in several ways. First, their research could prompt health care providers to conduct thorough assessments to detect risk factors for falls. In addition, they hope it will add data on which to base the development of wearable fall prevention technology. 

Along with being over age 60, risk factors for falls include medical conditions such as diabetes, heart diseases, or dementia-related illness; medications; having clutter, loose rugs, or poor lighting in your home; not getting enough sleep; and not exercising. See your health care provider for a full falls assessment and follow recommendations to keep yourself safe and injury free.