Executive Urges Boomers To Help Aging Parents Avoid Falls

Every year about one out of three Americans over age 65 fall accounting for nearly 20,000 deaths and more than two million visits to the nation’s emergency rooms.   The nation’s medical cost associated with falls by seniors is estimated to be nearly $30 billion.

“Falls also account for many of the 200,000 claims currently being paid by the nation’s long term care insurance companies,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the industry trade group.   “Just as parents baby proof a house, adult children with parents over age 65 can take steps to fall proof their aging parents home which will prevent countless falls not to mention all the pain, suffering and cost.”

Indeed two new studies report that the number of falls can be reduced by roughly 30 percent and the number of people falling by about 20 percent.    Researchers reported that exercise that contains multiple components such as strength and balance training can be helpful.

An additional study recently published by researchers at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand projected that with the right interventions; the number of falls could be much lower.  Scientists looked at 159 studies with roughly 80,000 seniors who had been randomly assigned to a fall prevention program, a program not designed to decrease falls, or no intervention at all.

The researchers found that some interventions to treat vision problems, such as adjusting to new glasses, also increased the risk of falls.  They also shared that exercise, including Tai Chi, effectively cut the risk of falling.

Slome, one of the nation’s leading long term care insurance experts, noted that home safety assessment and modification was essential.  According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 38,000 Americans 65 and older are treated in ERs each year after tripping on a rug or a carpet. More than a third of the falls happen in the bathroom.

“If you have aging parents, help make their home fall safe by removing newspapers and books from the floor and stairs,” Slome advises.   “Get rid of small rugs or tape them to the floor and have grab bars in the bathroom plus non-slip mats in the bathtub.”

“We get many calls from adults with aging parents hoping they can buy long term care insurance but this must be done while you can still health qualify,” Slome explains.  “It’s too late for that but it’s not too late to help them live in a safer environment and we hope awareness motivates more consumers to act before an accident occurs.”

The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance was established in 1998 to advocate for the importance of planning for long term care and to support insurance and financial professionals who market LTC insurance.  To learn more about long term care insurance costs call the organization’s offices at (818) 597-3227 or visit the Association’s website.

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