Recent Texas Study Analyzes Falls in the Elderly

Year after year, falls remain the top cause of injury and death in the elderly and a leading cause for long term care. Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin set out to understand the exact science behind a fall in an attempt to further research that can identify ways to prevent such an occurrence from happening.

Study Procedures

The study, mentioned in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, involved tracking healthy people as they walked and ran on a treadmill in order to understand the variability in their steps. What they found was a significant but subtle difference in body movement.

Reflective markers were placed on different parts of test subjects’ bodies to measure various physical changes. Infra-red reflections of the markers were captured by cameras and digitally re-created to mirror the activity occurring and measure the body movements precisely. When participants’ results compared, researchers found that older people were more at risk of slight variations in their step that have the potential to lead to a fall.

Dr. Jonathan Dingwell, a university professor of kinesiology and health education, supervised  the study, which was conducted by graduate school student Kelly Frank as part of her Master of Science in Kinesiology. He intends to coordinate a related study that will track the relationship between step variation and the risk of falling. In the study, he plans to deliberately trip the elderly while they are walking on a split-belt treadmill in a full-body harness that will prevent a real fall or any injury.

Important Questions

The concepts being explored by these researchers hold real significance in the future of long term care. As more and more people begin to “age-in-place”, it becomes crucial that we do our best to identify and rectify any injury risks that pose a threat to elderly adults. Falling is one of the most important.

According to the CDC, 1 in 3 older adults suffer a fall every year. That huge risk looms over all aged adults, especially those living alone. Many people who experience a fall subsequently develop a fear of falling in the future, whether they were injured or not. Identifying risks and providing assistance can help alleviate these fears and allow people to live at home longer and more comfortably.

Preparing for the risk of a fall is important, as it can have serious physical, emotional, and financial effects. If you still need care after you leave the hospital, that care is considered long term care, and it tends to be quite expensive. Just 1 month of long term care can run you anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000 a month, depending on your location whether you receive care at home or in a facility.

Protect Yourself from the Risk

Many older adults take steps to help reduce the risk of a fall, like installing different home modifications to help ease the stress of living at home. Long term care insurance provides a way for people to protect their assets and their health from the high cost of long term care.

Policies are very affordable, especially when compared to the actual cost of care, and they provide you with the peace of mind that you need as you age. Should you ever suffer a fall, or any other debilitating injury or illness, long term care insurance will help you cover the expensive cost of care and protect your assets from financial depletion.

Government studies estimate 7 in 10 Americans over the age of 65 will need long term care at some point, so considering the risk, especially the risk it poses to your retirement savings, is a step that should not be overlooked. Read more about the risk of long term care or request free information today.