Wisconsin ranks second in fall-related deaths in the U.S.

Wisconsin ranks second in fall-related deaths in the U.S.

Wisconsin ranks second in fall-related deaths in the U.S. among those 65 and older. The ranking is twice the national average, according to the Wisconsin Institute of Healthy Aging.

Nationally, falls are the leading cause of injuries for seniors. Falls account for a hospitalization every 40 seconds and an emergency department visit every 11 seconds, according to the CDC.

As a registered nurse, Christina Bensche did not think she would become somebody else’s patient so soon. Last year, Bensche had two major falls within months of each other, breaking her sacrum and causing a concussion.

“I had PTSD for quite a long time for the stairs and I have two sets of stairs…. I could’ve died when I fell down those stairs,” she said.

Bensche is just one of the 800,000 hospitalizations and 2.8 million seniors who visit the emergency room fall-related injuries a year in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. According to the Wisconsin Department of Human Services, 48 counties saw a 50 percent increase in emergency department visits for falls in seniors ages 65 and older in a four-year period from 2010 to 2014.

“We are an aging population. People want to stay in their own homes. People are sicker in regards to have multiple system problems,” said Linda Langel, a nurse assistant instructor at Madison College.

Bensche has rails in front of her house and in the bathroom to help her along the way. Safe at Home, a Dane County program, provided a safety assessment and helped make necessary changes to reduce risks of future falls.

“If we can prevent those from happening in the first place, we can keep people safe and independent and live their lives the way they want to live,” said program coordinator Sara Hannemann.

It’s a difference in peace of mind and independence Bensche is happy to have.

“I feel like I can get off the toilet now (she said laughing) and I don’t need my neighbor to help me with so many things. I do feel more secure,” Bensche said.

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