I recently began reading the book “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande, which was suggested to me by my friend Tom West, a financial advisor at SEIA who specializes in integrating financial planning with lifestyle and healthcare issues faced by older adults. It’s a great read for almost anyone (since we are all aging every day, as Gawande so eloquently reminds us in the book) but it is particularly helpful for anyone in the senior living industry. There was something in particular that jumped out at me from chapter two. We all know that falls in elderly populations often result a functional decline and death. Gawande describes that each year about 350,000 Americans fall and break a hip. Forty percent of these falls in elderly populations result in a nursing home and twenty percent are never able to walk again. But Gawande also describes some factors that can help determine if someone is at an increased risk of falling.
There are three primary risk factors for falling, according to Gawande:
- Poor balance
- Taking more than four medications, and
- Muscle weakness
Here is the big point: Falls in elderly people without these risks have a twelve percent chance occurring. Those with all three have almost a 100% chance of falling!
A qualified Gerontolgist can help you or a loved one determine if you are showing signs of poor balance and muscle weakness. Additionally, many life plan communities and other senior living options are putting a strong emphasis on using fall prevention technology and exercise regiments to decrease the risk of falls among their residents.
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