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Would it surprise you to know that falls are actually one of the leading causes of injury and death in the elderly population? In fact, one in three people aged 65 or older fall every year, and 20% of those falls cause a serious injury like broken bones or a traumatic head injury. Falls hospitalize over 700,000 patients every year and cost $34 billion to treat annually, yet for some reason the risk of falling in elderly does not receive the attention and education that it should.

How Can I Be Injured In A Fall?

While most falls do not cause serious injuries, those that do may lead to an individual’s loss of independence, inability to live on their own or care for themselves, and even death. Falls may cause broken bones, including hip fractures. Also, if a head injury is sustained during a fall, it can be extremely serious. Many elderly people take medications such as blood thinners, which increases the chances of bleeding in the brain.

Regardless of the injury, the recovery after a fall can be long and difficult, sometimes requiring a prolonged hospitalization or stay in a rehab/nursing care facility before it is safe for the patient to return to home. There can also be other complications during periods of immobility, such as pneumonia and blood clots, which can cause other serious illness or death. It is important to understand that falls are NOT a normal part of aging, and steps CAN be taken to prevent them!

Factors That May Lead to a Fall

  • Difficulty with walking or balance
  • Weakness in the lower body
  • Vitamin D or Calcium deficiencies, which may increase the chances of broken bones
  • Use of certain medications, which can affect balance, cognition, and alertness
  • Problems with vision
  • Improper footwear, pain or numbness in feet which make it difficult to step carefully
  • Environmental hazards, such as uneven paths, steps, throw rugs or other tripping hazards, clutter on floor, lack of handrails in bathroom or along stairs

How Can I Prevent a Fall?

  • Have your vision checked annually and wear the proper glasses if needed
  • Inspect your home environment – remove trip hazards, install grab bars next to toilets and showers, increase lighting and add nightlights
  • Review medications with your healthcare provider for any meds that may increase your risk of falling. Know how to take your medications safely if they can’t be changed or reduced. Discuss adding Vitamin D and Calcium supplements to your medication regiment.
  • Complete strength and balance exercises daily that help you to feel stronger and more balanced. Tai Chi is an excellent choice.

Consider Attending Stepping On – a Fall Prevention Workshop!

Several times a year, St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center conducts a fall prevention workshop called Stepping On. This 7-week course (each Thursday for 2 hours) focuses on individuals over the age of 65 who have had a fall, or who have a fear of falling.

Participants must be able to:

  • Walk with the use of a cane or minimal use of walker
  • Do light exercises during the class

Throughout the seven-week course, we will concentrate on:

  • Strength and balance exercises, which can help prevent falls
  • The role of vision in keeping your balance
  • Medications that can contribute to a fall
  • Learning how to check your home and other environments within the community for fall hazards

During the program you will be taught by physical therapists, a registered nurse, a paramedic, physicians, and a pharmacist. Each person brings a different expertise in how to prevent falls.

After completing Stepping On, you will have more confidence about your ability to move in and out of your home. You will have learned how to reduce your risk of falls and subsequent injuries, and improve your strength and balance.

The next Stepping On session begins in February and there are still registration slots available! Please call 512-341-6612 for more information or to register for classes. You may also email

Kristen Hullum, MSN RN PCCN
Trauma Injury Prevention Coordinator
St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center

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