What is the issue?
Following the fall and subsequent hospitalization of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Washington Post reported on the issue of falls upon older adults, a topic that Villages of Santa Fe has addressed by providing senior exercise classes for over 7 years.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other fall-related research:
● More than one out of four Americans age 65+ falls each year.
● Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries among older adults.
● The cost of treating injuries caused by falls is projected to increase to over $101 billion by 2030.
● Falls result in more than 3 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations.
How this affects us locally. From Christus St. Vincent 2020-2022 Community Health Needs Assessment - Falling is one of the leading causes of unintended injury and death for adults 65 and over in New Mexico. The rate of fall-related deaths for seniors was 77.7 per 100,000 in Santa Fe County in 2017, which is higher than the U.S. rate of 61.6 per 100,000. Falls and the risk of falling have been increasing across the nation.
Preventing falls can be life-saving for older adults. A more aging body means that what would be a noninjury in your 40s would be far more severe in your 70s. Preventing falls for more senior adults is not an option, but a life-saving strategy.
What are the costs of ignoring this?
Real Cost. The cost of treating injuries caused by falls is projected to increase to over $101 billion by 2030 (cdc.gov).
Disability or Death. Recuperating from a fall can be complicated and prolonged, especially with injuries such as a hip fracture or bleeding in the brain from head trauma, and "may even be fatal," said Brandon Verdoorn, a geriatrician and internist at the Mayo Clinic.
What is the solution? But isn't this difficult to prevent? Can't older people just stay home and be safe?
Staying home and not doing anything is not an option! Most falls - about 60 percent - happen in the home, while 30 percent occur in public and 10 percent in healthcare settings.
Simple strategies can go a long way to reducing overall fall risk. To prevent falls, older adults should try to exercise and walk to maintain strength. (NCOA).
Villages' simple strategies are effective. Villages offers seven classes weekly and a video library of over 300 classes, making senior exercise available 24/7. With three free classes weekly, seniors on a fixed income can still participate in building their physical resiliency. Unlike costly drugs, surgeries, or rehab, exercise is cheap! And in the May 2023 survey, participants reported improved balance, fitness, and a better attitude - in other words, they are healthy, resilient, and engaged adults.
What seems to be a ‘good idea’ is really a life-saving strategy with the added benefit of being simple to execute and cost-effective
About Villages of Santa Fe
Villages of Santa Fe provides online and in-person exercise and lifestyle programs that keep our senior community healthy, active and engaged. Villages provides regularly scheduled programs that fight isolation and support physical and mental health. Seniors are encouraged to 'just keep moving,' increasing their ability to remain healthy and thrive while aging.