Leonard Cohen, a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet, novelist and painter, was reportedly at peace with the idea of death, hoping only it wouldn’t be too “uncomfortable.” The icon, author of “Hallelujah,” died in his sleep last month. However, his manager later revealed that the 82-year-old’s death may have been linked to an earlier fall, which he had suffered prior to his death.
With our population living longer, the threat of a serious fall affects an increasing number of us. Although many of us tend not to think of falls as being all that serious, the reality is falls are the No. 1 cause of accidental death in the elderly. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the incidence rate has climbed steadily in the last 10 years. Often, falls are not just painful in the immediate aftermath, but also for months and even years afterward.
The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery reports the 1-year mortality rate for over-65 patients admitted to the hospital following a fall is 33 percent. Many times, a bad fall that results in an elderly person being admitted to the hospital can have a prognosis that is as poor as some stage IV cancers. Of course, those who are hospitalized are more likely to have higher rates of mortality as it is, because they are older and have a number of other serious conditions. But comparatively, the one-year mortality rate for older patients admitted with pneumonia is about 20 percent. Continue reading →