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Greetings!    


 

We are pleased to bring you our third edition of Fast Facts. This is a brief report on
local data that we believe you will find useful in both understanding and improving the
health of our community. Our goal is to keep it brief and instructive and to provide
opportunities for all persons to positively impact the issue.  

 

Our topic this time is Falls. Special thanks to Maureen Widner and ShaTorra Wake at
Aging & In-Home Services of Northeast Indiana, Maria Lewis at United Way of Allen County
2-1-1, and Julie Wirthwein with the Indiana State Department of Health for helping to compile this report. Please feel free to forward to colleagues, board members and others in the community.
Falls

One out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year, but less than half talk to their healthcare providers about it. Unfortunately, two-thirds of those who experience a fall will fall again within six months. And among older adults (those 65 or older), falls are the leading cause of injury death. One-fourth of those who fracture a hip die within six months of the injury.

 

Who is at Risk?

  • The death rates from falls among older men and women have risen sharply over the past decade.
     
  • In 2009, about 20,400 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.
     
  • Men are more likely than women to die from a fall. After taking age into account, the fall death rate in 2009 was 34% higher for men than for women.
     
  • Older whites are 2.4 times more likely to die from falls as their black counterparts.
     
  • Rates also differ by ethnicity. Older non-Hispanics have higher fatal fall rates than Hispanics.
     

Local Data for Deaths in Allen County due to Falls

 

2010 (N= 82)

2011 (N=99)

2012 (to date) (N= 67)

Mean Age

81 years

82 years

83 years

Age Range

36 to 103 years

42 to 103 years

54 to 99 years

Female

49 (60%)

53 (54%)

36 (54%)

Male

33 (40%)

46 (46%)

31 (46%)

Caucasian

80 (98%)

96 (97%)

66 (99%)

African American

1 (1%)

3 (3%)

1 (1%)

Asian

1 (1%)

0

0

Hispanic

0

0

0

Percentage of all deaths

2%

3%

3%

 

 
Impact
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
     
  • People age 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely than those age 65 to 74 to be admitted to a long-term care facility for a year or longer.
     
  • Fall deaths among the older adult population is often underestimated due to multiple and late complications of an injury. While the event may not cause death immediately, results of the injury sustained may cause complications or disability, which later in life may lead to death.
What Can I Do?

  
As a healthcare provider:   

  • Review older patient medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
     
  • Assess an older person's balance and gait in the office, and ask older patients if they have trouble with balance and falls. Refer for formal evaluation by physical therapist if needed.  

As an older adult: 

  • Exercise regularly. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
     
  • Have regular hearing and vision checks and correct any impairments if possible.
     
  • Make your home safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improving the lighting in the home.
     
  • Ensure you get adequate calcium and vitamin D from food and/or from supplements.
     
  • Get screened and, if needed, treated for osteoporosis.
 Resources

 

There are community programs that can reduce the risk of falls being offered in senior centers, community centers, fitness centers and through other senior-serving community organizations. Contact these agencies and see what they may offer.
 

  • Aging & In-Home Services is a private, not-for-profit social service organization servings seniors and persons with disabilities of all ages since 1974. AIHS offer these programs:  A Matter of Balance, Stepping On and Tai Chi: Moving for Better Balance. Contact them at 260-745-1200, toll-free at 1-800-552-3662 or online at www.agingihs.org.                
     
  • Silver Sneakers is a physical activity program for seniors offered at fitness centers throughout the state. Find more information and search for locations at www.silversneakers.com.
Fast Facts is a collaboration of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health and
United Way of Allen County 2-1-1
 
Questions?
  Contact Deborah McMahan, MD or John Silcox
 c/o Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health

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