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Falling down doesn’t come cheaply

Quiz time.

To the nearest billion – with a B – estimate how much falls cost the US healthcare system annually.

Trick question because no one is sure of the exact amount since falling is not a reportable condition, although as usual, there are good estimates and the best one, I think, is from the US Senate Aging Committee, which recently reported that falls cost the US healthcare system roughly $50 billion annually, with 3/4 of that borne by the Medicare and Medicaid programs (and if you were to amortize that to the Canadian healthcare system, that would mean anywhere from $3-5 billion annually up here since we spend our health care money much more wisely than they do in the States).

That is an amazing amount of money spent on what could be – to a very large extent – a preventable health problem.

So bottom line is simple: If you are anywhere in the vicinity of the age group that can be adversely affected by a fall – I’d say that’s anyone north of 45 although really, anyone of any age can be badly affected by a bad fall – work on fall prevention, and the older you get, the harder you should work at it.

Lots of suggestions out there but these stand out for me: Watch your medication intake and be especially careful with meds that can affect your balance and/or wakefulness, remove hazards in your environment (such as rugs that can easily slip), use handrails especially on stairs and in wet or icy conditions, start doing balance exercises, and do weight-training exercises especially for your core muscles.

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