“Winter is coming” – many of you might recognize this famous quote from the popular HBO TV series, Game of Thrones. For us Vermonters it is already December and winter has already come. The Night’s Watch prepares for defending an attack of the White Walkers, but what must Vermonters prepare for? The answer – high fall risk.
Facts of the fall:
Based on statistics from the CDC, Vermont has the second highest fall rate amongst its elderly population, age 65 or older (35.3%), with only Alaska having a greater risk percentage (38.1%). According to the Vermont Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, 35% of Vermonters who are age 45 and older report at least one fall within a 12-month period, which is significantly higher than the national average of 28%.
Falls are expensive and possibly lethal:
Based on data collected between 2010 and 2014 from Falls Free Vermont Coalition, falls amongst the elderly population contribute to 43% of accidental death causes. This is twice as high as the next closest cause of accidental death (automobile accidents, 20%) amongst populations of 65 and older. Financially, the cost from falling is a very high one. And based on the previously mentioned study, total hospitalization charges from falls were $61.5 million, with the average hospital stay for a fall costing upwards of $30,000. That’s the price of a brand new car! Also, 95% of hip fractures – an injury usually requiring surgery, are caused by falling. Now, we all know these falls should not be taken lightly, as it is a serious problem in Vermont, thus we have provided a list below of some of the specific risk factors that could contribute to the possibility of experiencing a fall.
- Lower body weakness
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Vision problems
- Foot pain and poor foot wear
- Home hazards or dangers – broken or uneven steps and thick rugs
If you think you fall into this high-risk population, take a couple minutes to fill out a short questionnaire from the CDC to take a closer look at your fall risk. However, it is our strong recommendation that you consult with your primary care physician or physical therapist about fall prevention and intervention. You can also search local clinics and care centers for assessment and treatment on the Stay Steady Vermont website. If you have any further questions or are unsure where to start, please contact us to set up a free screening to see if physical therapy would be right for you!