People often make light of the slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, but falls can cause truly serious injuries. Broken bones are common, head injuries occur frequently, and even brain and spinal cord injuries can happen as the result of a fall. Some falls are even deadly.
Older adults are more vulnerable. Not only are they more likely to fall, but they’re also more likely to be injured and are injured more seriously, on average. In a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident case, the fact that the victim was especially vulnerable is generally not an issue. People whose negligence causes injury to others are typically liable for whatever injuries they cause.
Unfortunately, older adults can face serious health setbacks and even worse consequences when they fall. According to a recent study, people 75 and older are dying at an increasing rate from falls. In 2000, over 8,600 people in that age group died from falls. In 2016, the death rate from falls nearly doubled — over 25,000 American adults 75 and over died from accidental falls.
According to Dr. Elizabeth Eckstrom, a professor and chief of geriatrics at Oregon Health & Science University, however, falling is not the inevitable result of aging. Rather, people could be falling more often because of lifestyle and medical issues.
Eckstrom believes the reason so many older adults are dying from falls could be, in part, that there are simply more people age 75 and older than there once were. Also, seniors are more active than they have been in the past, which puts them at greater risk for falls. However, there are also some specific issues that could be increasing fall risk among older adults.
Medications can increase fall risk
Certain medications can increase your risk of falling. For example, both pain pills and sleeping pills can make you dizzy or confused. Or, they might simply make you less likely to notice an uneven sidewalk, for example.
A class of drugs called anticholinergics can also increase your risk of falling. The class includes disparate drugs like Sudafed PE and Detrol, a bladder control drug.
Another common drug that can affect fall risk is blood pressure medication — in this case if you take too much. If your blood pressure gets too low, you can easily become dizzy and fall.
Eckstrom urges people not to restrict their activities in order to avoid falls. This can result in greater disability than the fall likely would, and make it harder to recover if you do fall. She also noted that balance exercises like tai chi can help older adults avoid falls.