Among the elderly, falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospitalization. Seniors are not only more prone to falling, but they are also more vulnerable to injury. Understanding why elderly are more vulnerable can help family caregivers take the necessary precautions to keep their loved ones safe on their feet.
Why do elderly people fall?
Senior falls are caused by a variety of factors. Remember that it is common for elderly to have one or more of the risk factors listed below.
Physical Fitness Declines
As people get older, they become less active, which exacerbates the physical effects of aging. Failure to do even mild exercise regularly causes muscle mass and strength to reduce, decreased bone mass, poor balance and coordination and reduced flexibility. Overall deconditioning not only increases an elderly’s risk of falling, but it also increases the likehood of serious injury and a longer and more difficult recovery.
Age related eye diseases make detecting fall hazards such as steps, puddles and thresholds difficult. An elderly who fails to see and perceive accurately obstacles or changes in ground level can result in a disastrous fall, even he is in excellent physical condition. Refusing to follow physician treatment recommendations, such as wearing eyeglasses and using necessary low vision equipment, can be one of the factors of falls among elderly.
Side Effects of Medicine
The risk of a senior falling increases by a wide variety of medications. Side effects including sleepiness, vertigo and low blood pressure can all cause accidents. The most common culprits are sedatives, antidepressants, antipsychotics, opioids and some cardiovascular medications. A study of polypharmacy (the use of multiple drugs to treat diseases and other health conditions) shows that 39 percent of elderly takes five or more prescription drugs. The risk of adverse drug reactions and drug-related falls increases by polypharmacy. Remember that nutritional supplements and over-the-counter medicines can both have potent adverse effects and synergistic consequences.
Health conditions that impair balance, physical stamina, joint integrity and/or cognitive function, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis can cause falling too. A person’s initial risk of falling increases with poor physical condition, which also reduces their capacity to detect hazards and recover from mishaps like tripping or slipping. Elderly who has peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage, may have numbness in their feet, which makes it exceedingly challenging for them to detect dangers outside and navigate their environment securely.
An elderly person who has had a hip replacement or other surgery may become weak, in pain and less mobile than before. This might just last until the elderly heals or it might develop into a new, persistent issue. Senior rehabilitation is essential to help the elderly to recover as rapidly as possible and regain as much of their functional, cognitive and physical abilities as possible.
The bulk of falls take place in or near elderly people’s residences.
Environmental issues that put an elderly’s safety in danger include dim lighting, clutter, unkempt areas, loose carpets, slippery flooring and lack of safety equipment, such as grab bars, ramps and elevators. Unsafe living environments often cause accidents and falls that make it impossible for elderly people to age in place.
A person’s particular lifestyle and behaviours have an impact on how likely they are to fall. This includes the types of activities they do, the level of physical demand for these activities and their ability and willingness to change their routine in order to enhance their safety. For instance, doing laundry is a common daily task for many people, but it can very taxing for an elderly, especially if they have to carry a large basket around the house. This can be dangerous on its own, but they put themselves in greater danger if they don’t wear safe, non-skid footwear or try to climb stairs while carrying the basket. The major yet common contributing factor for falls among elderly is that they fail to modify behaviours to account for new or increasing difficulties.
A fall rarely happens for just one of the aforementioned causes. A serious, even fatal injury may result when any of these elements come together. Even if a loved one is fortunate enough to avoid harm in a fall, the incident may leave them unsettled. Unfortunately, they may retreat and become more sedentary out of dread of falling again, which often causes further physical and even mental decline. You can learn to alter your loved one’s lifestyle and house to increase safety and prevent falls in order to keep them happy and healthy. Or, you may also hire a full-time maid to keep an eye on them while you’re working. An experienced one will help to create a safe environment for your loved one. Contact us to find out more information.