Fall Injuries in the Elderly and Salt Intake

- Nov• 06•12

Could salt intake play a role in the countless injuries the elderly suffer due to simple falls? Read on.

I run into Mary (not her real name) the other day. She hugs me and tearfully reports, “John is in the nursing home now and not doing well at all.” She continues. “He did so well after the open-heart surgery you performed last year. The other day he fell and hit his head. He bled inside his head from the fall and he is disabled now”.

Unfortunately, John is only one of nearly 2 million seniors who suffer from fall injuries each year in America. Nearly 20,000 seniors actually die each year from simple preventable falls, according to Tom Stafford, a staff writer at Springfield News Sun who recently reviewed data from Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in his excellent article titled “Self-Awareness Can Be a Saving Grace”. This well-written article—worthy reading for anybody approaching 70 years of age or with family and friends in that age group—shares simple precautions that can help prevent catastrophic problems like John’s.

I have one more. If you’ve been following this blog, you already know what I’m going to say. Yes, I recommend eliminating salt consumption because salt contributes significantly to the devastating problem of injuries from falls among the elderly in more than one way.

1) For starters, nearly one million seniors suffer fractured bones each year due to osteoporosis. Just think about that for a moment. The bones become so thin from osteoporosis that a simple turn or a twist or bump into furniture could lead to a broken bone. Sometimes, the bones break first and then the fall occurs. Once a major bone is broken, the elderly victim either dies or life changes forever. Survivors experience multiple disabilities and dysfunctions and can almost never resume normal activity without some sort of assistance.

As we have written in “Salt Kills”, more salt you consume, the more calcium your kidney loses as they try to get rid of the excess salt. Calcium loss eventually leads to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis now affects nearly all the seniors. Cutting salt in your diet even at a late age will help add mass to your thin bones.

2) Salt-induced high blood pressure is another big reason for all-too-common falls among seniors. High blood pressure, just like osteoporosis, affects nearly all the seniors. But it’s very difficult to control high blood pressure so that it stays in the natural range during various activities. In the elderly population, blood pressure medications used to try and maintain this physiologic range often drive blood pressure too high or too low. In either scenario, the senior citizen taking these medications feels dizzy and falls down.

The bottom line: Eliminating or cutting down on salt will help curb the widespread problem of injuries from falls among seniors.

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