Florida is the number one destination for senior retirees. The state is attractive to this age group because Florida retirees receive the best healthcare in the country. However, accidents have overtaken medical problems as the leading cause of death among seniors.
Slips and Falls
Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among seniors in Florida — overtaking heart disease and cancer. Around 3,000 senior residents succumb to injuries caused by slips and falls, and more suffer from life-altering injuries. Seniors are especially vulnerable to strong impacts. Their muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments are not as strong as they were in their youth, thus increasing the chances and severity of injuries. Vision loss and slower reflexes also contribute to the problem. Like their counterparts in the rest of the nation, one in three Florida seniors suffers from falls each year. Most falls occur inside the house, most notably in bathrooms. Seniors tend to use the bathroom more often, and sitting down and getting up from the toilet can be hard on the knees. The change in position can also lead to a rush of blood to the head, which can cause sudden vertigo. Falls in the bathroom are twice as likely to cause injuries. Slippery floors and hard surfaces can be particularly unforgiving, and a knock to the head can have very serious consequences. Falling on one’s side is also especially dangerous. Breaking a hip often leads to death in 50 percent of all cases — and losing one’s mobility is almost always guaranteed. Making your bathroom safe should immediately reduce the chances of slipping and falling in your home. You can install a few grab bars from the door to the toilet and add a few supports to help you sit down and get up. You can also install a walk-in tub so you can take baths safely without having to rely on assistance.
Car Crashes and Collisions
In the United States, seniors account for 8 percent of automobile accidents and close to 20 percent of fatalities. In Florida, seniors are one of the leading causes of accidents. They account for 20 percent of all drivers in the state — causing a higher percentage of accidents and fatalities. Vision-related problems and slower reflexes are often cited as the most likely factors increasing the chances of accidents in seniors. Weaker muscles, bones, and ligaments also make seniors more susceptible to injuries. While a fender bender at 5 miles an hour might not bother the average driver, it can easily cause whiplash among seniors. The risk of car accidents also increases from March to April. While the Florida DMV requires a 4-hour course on substances for new drivers, people visiting for spring break may not have undergone the same training. Seniors are advised to use ride-share apps whenever road conditions are not optimal or when they have taken medication. Vision is especially important when driving, so glasses or corrective surgery can also decrease the chances of accidents.
The number of seniors dying from accidental overdoses rose sharply in 2020. Most seniors in Florida take pain-relievers or other kinds of medication. Memory lapses, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia account for some cases of overdose fatalities. However, addiction also figures prominently. Most overdose deaths involve painkillers and opioids. Most seniors will have mobility issues or physical problems due to pain, and doctors are more than willing to provide medication. A Harvard study points out that doctors often over-medicate opioids, with some receiving over $25,000 from manufacturers for their efforts. Overdoses tend to affect seniors living on their own. Using timed/automated pill dispensers can minimize or eliminate the chances of taking additional doses. A trip to the doctor for non-opioid medication and other alternatives can also minimize opioid dependency and abuse.
Fires at Home
Cooking is the leading cause of residential fires in Florida. However, most fire-related deaths are due to smoking. Falling asleep with a lit cigar can be especially dangerous. The U.S. Fire Administration warns that seniors are twice as likely to die or get injured in a fire. The chance is tripled for seniors over the age of 75 and quadrupled for seniors over 85. Functioning smoke alarms are essential, as is limiting smoking to outside the house.
Florida’s excellent healthcare systems have made medical issues less of a problem. However, even the best doctors cannot prevent accidents. Seniors are highly prone to falling or slipping, collisions, overdoses, and fires. Therefore, added precautions are necessary to keep them safe. What should be remembered is that preventing accidents mostly rely on the individual and the practices one takes to stay safe.