It’s easy to minimize the dangers of a fall – until you’ve had one that’s caused a serious injury. Broken bones, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and spinal cord injuries (SCIs) caused by falls can require extensive and long-term medical treatment, and these injuries can result in long-term effects on the body and mind.
Falls can be particularly dangerous for older people. Further, falls among seniors are becoming increasingly common. As older people stay active longer than previous generations did, they’re out and about more – and more likely to encounter a hazardous condition on a property. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a quarter of Americans 65 and over suffers at least one fall each year.
What would likely be an unmemorable trip or slip and fall for a young or even middle-age adult can result in devastating consequences for someone in their 70s. One study found that approximately three-quarters of spinal cord injuries in people over 75 are caused by falls. Another found that those over 70 had triple the chances of dying after a “low-level” fall (from a standing or seated position) than those under 70.
Why are these statistics so grim?
There are a multitude of reasons why seniors are particularly at risk for suffering major consequences in the wake of a fall. For example, seniors:
- Are more likely to suffer a head injury, which can be immediately fatal
- More frequently require hospitalization and rehab, which increases their chances of getting a hospital-acquired infection (HAI)
- Have frailer bones (particularly women), so they’re more likely to suffer serious fractures
Hip fractures can result in especially bad outcomes. You may have heard that one in three people over 50 who breaks a hip dies within the next year. That’s usually not a direct result of the fracture. It’s more often due to the changes in a person’s life after the injury. They often become less active and engage in less socialization. They become dependent on others. It’s easy to become depressed and hopeless.
Getting the care you need is essential
The prognosis of a fall doesn’t have to be dire. With good medical care and rehabilitation along with a strong support system, people can potentially heal without going into a downward physical and emotional spiral.
If you are an older adult and you’ve recently suffered a fall, don’t let a property owner tell you they’re not liable because a younger person wouldn’t have suffered such serious injuries. That’s irrelevant if another party’s negligence caused the injuries. Seeking legal guidance can help you protect your rights and get a fair settlement.