Head Injuries from Falls Rising Among Seniors

Head Injuries from Falls Rising Among Seniors

Elderly people are suffering concussions and other brain injuries from falls at what appear to be unprecedented rates.

Elderly people are suffering concussions and other brain injuries from falls at what appear to be unprecedented rates, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One in every 45 Americans 75 and older suffered brain injuries that resulted in emergency department visits, hospitalizations, or deaths in 2013. The rate for that age group jumped 76 percent from 2007. The rate of these injuries for people of all ages rose 39 percent over that time, hitting a record level, the CDC found. But the elderly suffered at far higher rates than any other group.

It’s well known that falls among the elderly are common. Older people are more likely to have impaired vision, dizziness and other de-stabilizing health problems, and are less likely than younger people to have the strength and agility to find their feet once they begin to lose their balance. The CDC had already reported that falls were the top cause of injuries and deaths from injury among older people; an estimated 27,000 Americans die each year from falls.

The reason for the increase isn’t clear, the report’s authors said. But one likely factor is that a growing number of elderly people are living at home and taking repeated tumbles. What may seem like a mild initial fall may cause concussions or other problems that increase the chances of future falls — and more severe injuries.

Seniors are advised to have their vision checked regularly and do Tai Chi or other exercises that can strengthen legs and improve balance. Experts also advise making an elderly person’s home safer by removing loose rugs and other tripping hazards, improving lighting and installing handrails and grab bars.

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