As you enter in the "golden years" of life, your health needs change. "Adults age 65+ have a higher risk of injury due to a fall or car crash," warned the CDC in a tweet yesterday, in order to promote their new awareness campaign #StillGoingStrong, which "offers simple steps you and your loved ones can take to age without injury." One of the main reasons is that your risks of sustaining certain injuries increases, which makes it important to stay educated on the best practices to avoid injury and also what health symptoms to look out for. Read on to learn more about the CDC's warning to those 65 and over—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and May Not Even Know It.
These Injuries Are More Common As We Age
The CDC reveals that injuries from falls and car crashes are more common as we age. "These injuries can have devastating effects. But these injuries can be prevented so you can stay healthy and independent longer," they explain. According to the CDC, over one in four older adults report falling each year—resulting in about 36 million falls. "Falls can cause serious injuries such as broken bones or a head or brain injury," they explain. "But falls are not a normal part of aging—they can be prevented."
How to Prevent a Fall
"There are simple steps you can take to keep yourself from falling and to stay healthy and independent longer," explains the CDC. Tell your doctor if you have fallen, "if you feel unsteady when standing or walking, or if you are afraid you might fall," they advise. Also, ask your doctor or pharmacist to review the medicines you take. "Some medicines might make you dizzy or sleepy which can increase your risk of falling." They also stress the importance of having an eye exam at least once a year as well as a foot exam, and "discuss proper footwear to reduce your risk of falling." Additionally, they suggest asking your doctor about health conditions like depression, osteoporosis, or hypotension that can increase your risk for falling.
How to Prevent a Motor Vehicle Crash
"Driving helps older adults stay mobile and independent. But the risk of being injured in a traffic crash increases as we age," the CDC points out. This is because as we age, "declines in vision and cognitive function (ability to reason and remember), as well as physical changes, might affect our driving abilities," they explain. However, they offer some simple steps to staying safer on the road. First, drive when conditions are safest. "Drive during daylight and in good weather. Conditions such as poor weather (like rain or snow) and driving at night increase your chance of a crash." Next, never drink and drive. "Alcohol reduces coordination, impairs judgement, and increases the risk of being in a crash." They also note that planning is key. "Before you drive, find the safest route with well-lit streets, intersections with left-turn signals, and easy parking."
Watching your distance is also important. "Leave a large following distance between your car and the car in front of you. You may experience delayed reflexes or slower reaction time as you age," they say. Don't drive distracted. "Avoid distractions in your car, such as listening to a loud radio, talking or texting on your phone, and eating," they note. And finally, get a ride when possible. "Consider alternatives to driving, such as riding with a friend or family member, taking a ride share service, or using public transportation if possible." They also stress the importance of being honest with your healthcare providers about your ability to drive. "Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review the medicines you take. Some medicines might make you dizzy, sleepy, or slow your reaction time. This can increase your risk for a car crash," they say.
Know the Signs of a Concussion or Brain Injury
A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is an injury that affects how the brain works, the CDC explains. "It may be caused by a bump, blow, jolt to the head, or a penetrating injury such as when an object enters the skull and harms the brain." There are three main types of TBI: Mild TBI or concussion, moderate TBI, and severe TBI4. Luckily, TBIs are preventable, but they remain a "serious public health concern resulting in death and disability for thousands of older Americans each year." The two leading causes of TBI-related hospitalizations amongst older adults are falls and motor vehicle crashes, so lowering your chances of both are crucial. They also notes that TBIs may be missed or misdiagnosed in older adults "because symptoms of TBI overlap with other medical conditions that are common among older adults, such as dementia or when older adults have multiple injuries." This makes it important to be checked if you have fallen or were in a car crash, especially if you are taking blood thinners. "These medicines may increase the risk for bleeding in the brain following a TBI. Bleeding in the brain after a TBI may put a person at risk for more severe injury or death," they suggest. If you do get a TBI or concussion you should see your healthcare provider ASAP. And to get through life at your healthiest, don't miss these First Signs You Have a Serious Illness.