Why falls like those suffered by Jimmy Carter are so dangerous for older adults and what to do to avoid them | Univision Salud News

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1 in 4 Americans over 65 face a severe fall by year and falling once doubles the chances of doing it again, warn the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Carter is 95 years old and so far in 2019 he has suffered three.

The first was in May when the hip fractured. At least 300,000 older adults are hospitalized for this reason every year in the US and these fractures increase the chances of dying within six months of the injury by 20%.

Months later, in October, Carter injured his head and, two weeks later, on October 21, suffered a pelvic fracture in his home.

In older patients, even a small blow can cause blood to accumulate between the covering of the brain (dura) and the surface of the brain, something known as chronic subdural hematoma which can go unnoticed for several days as it occurs progressively. If it occurs abruptly it can be deadly.

As blood accumulates, it can generate pressure on the brain and cause symptoms ranging from headaches to memory problems or seizures. To repair it, doctors make a small hole in the skull and insert a tube to remove the blood which, according to an NPR article, is possibly what they did to Carter in this Tuesday's surgery, from which he is recovering satisfactorily.

Years ago, he survived a melanoma that had metastasized to the liver and brain.

A fall that doesn't end

Beyond fractures or visible injuries, falls have less obvious effects on the lives of older adults.

When they suffer a severe injury from a fall, their daily difficulties increase in 166%, coronary problems increase in 46% and the chances of suffering from depression in 48% reveals the report The Schock of Falling Among Older Americans, prepared by the National Office of Economic Research.

Fear come true

People over 65 who, like Carter, have fallen once feel a great fear of falling again, which paradoxically increases the risk of this fear materializing. Studies indicate that between 30% and 50% of older people suffer from fear of falling.

Fear often paralyzes them and they stop doing things, and thus their physical condition worsens, which makes them more prone to falls, although it does not seem to be the case of Carter who made a public appearance in a volunteer work, hours later of receiving 14 sutures for a head wound.

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