There are many “myths” going around about falls and aging. I am going to talk about three of them in this blog post.
I hope that addressing these three myths about falls gives you some hope in terms of the aging experience.
The first myth about falls is that muscles and flexibility cannot be regained.
While it is true that normal aging muscles results in loss of strength and loss of muscle mass, they can be regained through exercise.
The second myth about falls is that if somebody stays home, they can prevent falling.
We know that is a myth due to data from trauma centers regarding falls. Based on fall-related data, we know that most falls occur by slipping and tripping on a level surface in your own home.
The third myth about falls is that falls are a normal part of aging.
That is not true because there are certainly plenty of people that are older that are not falling. However, there are certain risk factors that predispose people to a higher likelihood of falling.
What is the Truth?
Prevalence of Falls
The myths about falls are wrong. Right now, the statistics are that about one in four older adults is reporting a fall once a year. If someone has fallen, they are at a higher risk of falling again. In fact, it is estimated that about 50% of people who have fallen will fall again within 6 months.
Fear of falling increases the risk of falling!
Injuries from Falls
Of those who fall, about 20-30% will sustain moderate to severe injuries that will prevent them from ever returning home or living alone again. Even the ones who do not have those types of severe injuries that result in a loss of independence can end up with scraped skin, bruised knees, and/or skinned knees and elbows. I have even met people who have fallen onto heaters and sustained severe burns.
Those injuries alone are really painful so we don’t even want the minor injuries even if they don’t require emergency care.
We want to avoid falls if at all possible so make sure you understand the myths about falls.
To learn more about preventing falls, visit my other helpful blogs here and here.
For tips on proper footwear to reduce the risk of falls, click here.
To find a video with a public lecture that I offered about preventing falls, click here.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.