Winter on Long Island can be an especially dangerous time for older adults for numerous reasons. Among the biggest risks are slips and falls on slick sidewalks, parking lots and other surfaces. The danger can continue when they step indoors into puddles of melted ice and snow. While everyone is at greater risk of falling in winter weather, falls generally cause far more serious, long-term injuries in seniors than in younger people. This is particularly true when it comes to fractures.
No one wants to break a bone. However, an older person is far more likely to suffer a break – and a serious one. People’s bones (especially women’s) lose density over the years and become frailer. Even a “same level” fall to the floor can cause a fracture. When people fall on their sides, a hip fracture can result.
Hip fractures can start a downward physical and mental health spiral
You may have heard some of the shocking data around hip fractures, like the statistic that about one in three people in their 50s and older who suffer a hip fracture die within the next 12 months. It’s not that hip fractures are fatal – but they are life changing.
Hip fractures often require surgery, which can lead to complications. Surgery is often followed by time in a rehabilitation facility where patients can acquire infections and other conditions. Even when they go home, their mobility is significantly impaired and mobility aids will be necessary for a time. People tend to become sedentary, which causes loss of muscle mass. People recovering from a hip fracture also often limit how much they go out or invite others over. All of this can lead to depression and other mental health issues.
Other fall injuries can have long-term negative effects
Downward health spirals aren’t limited to hip fractures. Leg, arm, wrist and ankle fractures as well as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can all lead to a serious decline in even previously active, healthy people. There’s even a name for it – “post-fall syndrome.” Certainly, none of this is inevitable. People with a strong support system of family and friends are generally more likely to remain as active as possible and have a positive attitude about healing and rehabilitation.
Of course, quality medical care, rehabilitation and therapy is costly. That’s why it’s important to seek compensation if a property owner or other party was negligent in keeping that property as safe as possible inside and out. Getting experienced legal guidance can help protect the rights of fall victims and make a strong case for fair compensation.