Here’s an eye-opening statistic: In Wisconsin, deaths from falls outnumber deaths from breast and prostate cancer combined. Wisconsin recorded 1,383 deadly falls in 2017 alone within its elderly population.
Wisconsin Leads the Nation
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Wisconsin’s elderly population has the nation’s highest rate of deadly falls, which is more than double the national average. Minnesota is not far behind. There is no one reason for this excessive fall rate, but some contributing factors include harsh Midwest winters that bring slippery sidewalks and an older population, which is projected to increase.
What can older adults do to prevent falls? The CDC recommends a four-step approach-
1. Talk to your doctor.
Make sure medications (including over-the-counter medications) aren’t affecting your steadiness. As we get older, medications affect our bodies differently and may be less safe to continue taking.
2. Keep moving.
Regular activity can improve your strength and balance. Check with your local health care provider to see if classes are available or start doing a simple and safe exercise routine at home.
3. Get checked out head-to-toe.
Some falls are caused by eye conditions, while others may be caused by improper footwear.
4. Fall-proof your home.
Install handrails for all stairs, put away clutter that can be a trip hazard, and improve your lighting.
For more ways to fall-proof your home, download a home safety checklist and other resources from cdc.gov/steadi.