Aging Well

Published January 1, 2005

Let’s talk briefly about aging and injuries from falling and driving a car.

In the United States, one of every three persons aged 65 years and older falls each year. Among older adults, falls are the leading cause of injuries, hospital admissions, and death.

About 11,000 seniors die every year from fall-related injuries. Fractures are the most serious health consequence of falling. Approximately 250,000 hip fractures occur each year among people over age 65.

Many of these falls and resulting injuries could have been prevented if a little more attention were paid to the situations where falls can happen.

Strategies to prevent falls among older adults:

  • exercise to improve individual strength, balance, and flexibility;
  • review medications; some can cause dizziness and affect balance;
  • take an inventory of your home and make modifications that reduce fall hazards. Install rails on staircases and in the bathroom. Check your home for adequate lighting and remove items on the floor that may cause you to trip.

While rates of motor vehicle-related deaths and nonfatal injuries vary by state, there are some common denominators: poor and uncorrected vision; slow reaction time to potential danger; and side effects from certain prescription drugs.

When your medicine’s label warns “do not operate heavy equipment,” that also means your car!

Pay attention out there folks.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.