Feature Archive

Seniors' Falling Injuries Are Preventable

Seniors Falling

WebMD Feature

Eleanor Kusel never gave much consideration to the bumps in the sidewalks or the rugs lying on the floor of her apartment. But after the 75-year-old San Franciscan fell and fractured her pelvis while getting out of a car, she began to notice the many hazards that could cause her to fall again.

"I never thought about it until this happened," Kusel said of her recent accident.

Kusel is not alone. One out of every three Americans 65 years and older falls at least once a year, with 10 percent fracturing a bone, dislocating a joint or incurring some other serious injury, said Dr. Mary Tinetti, Chief of Geriatrics at the Yale University School of Medicine.

After three months of bed rest and therapy, Kusel is gradually moving back into her daily routine. She's resumed her volunteer work at a local hospital and is once again making her way around town.

But she may be one of the luckier ones. Nearly one-half of the older Americans who incur a serious injury never fully recover and many lose their ability to function independently for the rest of their lives, said Dr. Bree Johnston, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco's department of geriatrics. A good proportion end up in nursing homes, making falls and the injuries that result one of the most substantial health threats facing older Americans.