Fall-Related Injuries Increased During the Pandemic: Medical Alert Systems Provide Fast Help in Isolation

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Falling is a major health concern as we age. In fact, many older adults cite heightened fall risk as a primary reason for exploring Alert1 medical alert systems. Age and certain conditions can contribute to these potential accidents, but freshly published data has revealed a startling finding: the percentage of seniors who experienced falls increased during the novel coronavirus pandemic. While researchers have yet to illustrate specific causes, this upward tick is enough to set many seniors on the path toward finding a medical alert system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found an increase in poor fall-related outcomes for seniors. In other words, they noticed an uptick in how often falls resulted in major injuries and death. According to provisional data released in June 2021, the trend showed an estimated 9 percent increase in fall-related fatalities from 2019 to 2020. [1]

In many cases, fall outcomes are tied directly to how quickly a person is able to receive help. Alert1 medical alert systems provide seniors with a direct line to an emergency operator. Simply press your alarm button when you experience a fall, and we’ll send help directly to your home – or car, or store, or whatever location you’ve experienced an accident. Our medical alert systems are made with senior needs in mind. If the uptick in poor fall-related outcomes is causing unwanted stress, an Alert1 system can help put your mind at ease. 

How Dangerous are Senior Falls?

Falls are the leading cause of injury for American adults over the age of 65. Seniors fall more often than younger folks because of the ways in which age changes our bodies. Our muscles and bones become weaker over time, which means we might not be as quick to catch ourselves when we stub a toe or miss a stair. To that end, these weakened muscles and bones have a harder time standing up to a fall’s impact than a younger body might. It takes far less for a senior to break a bone than it takes a teenager.

Still, the Centers for Disease Control acknowledge that many falls are preventable. If anxiety around these accidents keeps you up at night, rest assured that there are certain steps you can take to mitigate your risk. Here are a few risks common to seniors that increase the likelihood of falling:

  • Lack of Activity: The less we move, the weaker our muscles and bones get. And, to exacerbate the difficulties most seniors already experience with mobility, the pandemic caused our daily routines to come to a grinding halt. To maintain your strength, try doing daily exercises. Then, gradually increase the time you spend doing them. Remember to speak with your doctor about the types of activities and intensity levels that are best suited for you.
  • Hazardous Living Space: Spending more time at home means many of us have allowed clutter to accumulate around us. Keep your floors clutter-free and consider removing loose rugs. Adding grab bars in high-slip areas, like the bathroom, is another easy and low-cost protective measure.
  • Overall Health: Make sure to review any medicine you are taking with your doctor or pharmacist. Certain side-effects may include dizziness or fatigue. Similarly, consider your foot and eye health. Wearing proper footwear and eyewear can make a notable difference in your balance and mobility.

Importantly, many of our members cite a lack of fall awareness when describing their first accidents. To help you understand your fall risk, consider reading through the Centers for Disease Control’s Stay Independent Brochure. This simple quiz helps seniors assess their risk of falling. If you’d like more information about how falling may impact you personally, speak openly with your doctor about any potential fears. A fear of falling does not need to dictate your future.

While the above recommendations are important first steps, some older adults might want some extra support in case a fall does occur. A medical alert system can help provide a sense of increased security and protection in the event of an emergency. We at Alert1 work hard to offer plans and devices that suit a range of senior needs and lifestyles – from month-to-month payment to year-long options.

The “Twin Pandemic” of Senior Health Crises and COVID-19

In the previously discussed data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that seniors aged 65 to 74 saw an uptick in fatal falls over a 12-month period. Much of this period overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic, adding a variety of intervening variables. Researchers gathered this data from 2019 Q3 to 2020 Q3. During that time, the number of falls that led to a senior’s death rose by 9 percent.

Factors that may have contributed to this increase in poor fall-related outcomes over the pandemic include:

  • Senior Isolation: The pandemic and subsequent isolation may contribute to worse outcomes. Due to inactivity and additional strain on our bodies, falls have become increasingly common among seniors of all ages.
  • Poor Mental Health: Worsening mental health can potentially lead to worse fall-related outcomes. The pandemic has taken its toll on many people. It may be especially difficult for those seniors who live on their own and cannot see their relatives. The trauma and difficult emotions resulting from separation may exacerbate the outcome of a fall.
  • Less Daily Stimulation: COVID-19 put many of our daily activities on hold for extended periods of time. Many seniors may have spent longer hours watching television or doing some reading. Remaining in one place for too long can make anyone feel disoriented. It is important to make sure that you move around each day. That way, when you do rise, you are less likely to feel unsteady on your feet.
  • Limited Intervention Opportunities: During the pandemic, most seniors have likely had fewer people in and out of their homes. As a result, there were fewer opportunities for visitors to walk in during or soon after an emergency or accident.

As the data indicates, falls are a major concern for Americans over 65. But the rise in poor fall-related outcomes is tied specifically to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Many of the above causes are a result of isolation and the “Safer at Home” policies instituted across the world.

What Does the New CDC Pandemic-Related Senior Falling Data Mean for You?

Most American seniors have received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccines, which means they can resume life as normal, post-pandemic. In returning to normal life, seniors will naturally see the risk factors described above disappear. You’ll be less isolated, have more daily stimulation, and there will be more intervention opportunities in case a fall does occur.

But while the uptick in poor fall-related outcomes appears to be an abnormality in the data, falls can still pose a risk to older adults. If you’re looking to put your anxieties at ease, we strongly recommend trying one of our medical alert systems. We are prepared to serve all types of seniors with all types of health concerns – from the 80-year-old woman experiencing osteoporosis to the 65-year-old man with cardiac issues.

Medical alert systems don’t prevent falls, but they can significantly improve fall-related outcomes. In general, the faster you get help, the less likely you are to have a bad outcome. The speed at which we contact our members can make a difference in seniors’ immediate access to medical assistance. Plus, our Command Centers are staffed with trained agents who hold a variety of certifications. When you press your button, or when the fall alert is triggered, a skilled agent will come on the line and stay with you until help arrives.

We offer different medical alert system options to meet our members’ different needs. Our standard products include: In-the-Home Medical Alert and On-the-Go Medical Alert. Both of these products can also come with fall detection services. The three fall detection-included products are: In-the-Home + Fall Detection, On-the-Go with GPS and Fall Detection, and In-the-Home + On-the-Go + Fall Detection.

You cannot predict when you or a loved one will experience an emergency, but the medical alert systems from Alert1 can get you help when you need it most. We’ll stay on the line while you wait for medical attention and contact members of your Circle of Care to alert them to the situation.   

Medical Alert Systems are Increasingly Important

While fall risks and fall-related outcomes vary, America’s senior population is growing larger by the day. According to the Urban Institute, the number of Americans ages 65 and older will double between 2000 and 2040. Medical alert systems are more important now than ever before. Alert1 has several options to suit a range of senior needs. Each device benefits our members in different ways. We recommend viewing our frequently asked questions page for any personal selection guidance.

We at Alert1 strive to ensure that someone is there to help meet your needs, 24/7/365. We want to bring some sense of relief. Any type of fall is scary, regardless of its severity. Keep in mind that we will never charge our members for “false alarms.” If you feel that you have made a mistake alerting us, we will wish you a pleasant day and disconnect the call.

Perhaps most importantly, we want to help older adults maintain their independence. As the senior population grows, many are choosing to age in place. But we don’t think age should derail a person’s ability to live independently. Our medical alert systems allow our country’s seniors to age with dignity, as well as with greater medical security. 

[1] Nathan, Aparna. (2021, June 28). Pa. seniors long have faced higher risks of dying in falls. The pandemic may have made it worse. Inquirer.com. Pa. seniors long have faced higher risks of dying in falls. The pandemic may have made it worse.