Elderly Falls and Fall Prevention

Senior Statistics

October 26, 2021
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The elderly are more likely to suffer severe consequences from falls than other age groups. This is due to a combination of factors including poor balance, reduced muscle strength, impaired eyesight, and other injuries. These affect the cognitive and physical functions in seniors over 65 all over the world. Statistics show that falls can be dangerous and life-threatening. 

Who is at-risk of falling?

The risk of fall increases with age due to factors like decreased mobility, poor balance, impaired vision, loss of muscle mass, and slow reaction times. Both men and women are equally prone to falling, however men who work in high-risk occupations may be at a greater risk due to the nature of their job. This includes construction workers, roofers, and other jobs that require manual labour or excessive physical effort. 

There are also medical issues that contribute to one’s risk of falling. These problems can cause problems when recovering from slight trips that lead to falls. The effects of the following include light-headedness or dizziness that affect balance and coordination skills. 

  • Cognitive impairment such as dementia diseases 
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Existing medical conditions
  • Unsafe work or home environments
  • Not eating enough nutrient-dense meals 

 

Consequences of Elderly Falls

Elderly falls are commonly associated with hip fractures or broken bones from the initial impact of the fall. However, there are many other internal and external consequences associated with falls. Long-term effects can greatly affect your quality of life and confidence. One-time accidents scare our brains into avoiding doing the same activity again, even if it does not make sense. For example, if you slipped on your front door steps when it was raining outside, you may be hesitant to head out when it is raining. Even if the problem was that you wore running shoes instead of rain boots, you still might avoid going to the shop when it is raining in fear of falling again. 

Elderly falls can also result in a number of long-term changes to your health including mental health issues like developing anxiety or feeling isolated. Here are common risks that seniors who fall may encounter. 

  • Traumatic brain injury, an type of acquired brain injury caused by external force
  • Hip fractures are more likely due to weaker bones
  • Reduced mobility if you injure yourself
  • Loss of freedom
  • Hospital acquired infections such as pneumonia, sepsis, or catheter-associated urinary tract infections (UTIs) 
  • A changed attitude towards leaving your home
  • Lack of self-confidence and being more cautious 
  • Anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions

Benefits of Companions for Elderly

You may be advised to move into a monitored care facility or have someone look after you if your injuries are too severe. If you are unable to care for yourself independently, you may need to give up everyday luxuries like driving and living alone. Luckily, there are companionship options available for elderly who wish to stay in their homes. Companions can perform a variety of duties such as medical appointment support, prescription pick-up, grocery delivery, meal preparation, and light household chores like laundry and dishwashing. If your loved ones live far from you or they are not available to care for you during the week, a companion is a great choice.

Where do elderly falls occur?

Falls can happen both inside your home and when you are outdoors. Many seniors assume they are more likely to fall when they are in an unfamiliar environment and less aware of the fall hazards. The contrary is true, as we lower our guard when we are at home because we are so comfortable around our surroundings. Then, you may suddenly trip on a loose power cord or unsecured rug if you are not paying attention. 

Falls can happen outside

You are at greater risk of falling if you live in a cold climate during the winter where icy sidewalks and snowy driveways exist. Because elderly citizens often have back pain or reduced mobility, they are less likely to stay on top of clearing the snow and shovelling their pathways. Wearing improper winter footwear is dangerous for seniors when walking outdoors. 

Falls can happen at home

Stairs and steps can also present challenges if elderly have knee issues and are unable to lift themselves to the next step. It is best to wait until the railing is free so you have something supportive to hold on to. Rushing can cause falls too as we often pay less attention to our surroundings when we are running late. It is important to remember to allow more time when getting ready and when leaving the house. Falls can even result in death, but luckily there are fall prevention tips to decrease this likelihood. 

Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors

Be prepared and knowledgeable about when falls can occur, where you can fall, and how to prevent falls. Being aware of your surroundings can be exhausting, so it is best to know what common hazards to look out for. Wearing proper footwear and well-fitted clothing can also help you avoid accidental trips. Staying active in old age provides many health benefits and can reduce your chances of having a fatal fall.

Home Safety Tips

Caregivers can help prevent falls by spotting hazards before you do or point out potential risks that you may not consider. This includes picking up laundry that fell on the floor, salting your driveway to prevent icy pathways, or lending a hand to balance on during outdoor walks. Scan your living space often to make sure there are minimal tripping hazards. This includes

  • Electrical cords
  • Water spills
  • Open cupboards and drawers
  • Objects laying on the floor or misplaced items

Exercise to increase your balance and flexibility

Regular exercise will also strengthen your leg muscles and your core to give you better control. To prevent injuries when exercising, wear proper fitness equipment such as fitted shirts and proper length pants. Loose clothing can be a hazard if you get caught in something or you may trip on pants that are too long. Footwear is equally as important. Invest in good quality running shoes that will last for a long time. Running shoes are the base of your balance and can cause trips or falls if they are loose, have poor traction, or worn-out insoles. 


Fall Prevention is Key

While falls are more prominent in seniors over 65 than in any other age group, this does not mean you are destined for bad luck. There are many things you can do to prevent falls when at home and outdoors. Having a companion or loved one accompany you during long walks may be a good idea. They can keep you company as well as provide a helping hand if anything is to happen. Make sure you carry your mobile phone with you in case you need to call for help. Being prepared is the key to elderly fall prevention.

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