Causes of Falls in the Elderly
Elderly injuries caused by home- and facility-related accidents are a serious issue in the United States. By far, falls are the leading cause of elderly injury and nearly one in three seniors become injured each year due to a fall according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The good news is that with knowledge and the right prevention methods, we can help put a stop to elderly accidents and injury no matter if your loved one is at home or in a residential or assisted living facility in Phoenix, Orlando, or anywhere else in the country.
IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM: WHY DO FALLS HAPPEN?
Elderly falls can happen for a variety of reasons including the following top 5 causes:
HEALTH. As our loved ones age, it goes without saying that memory, eyesight, balance and poor hearing can all lead to the increased risk of falling. Illnesses and a physically deteriorated state can further the stakes when it comes to elderly injury.
MEDICINES. Medication can play a significant role in balance and stability. When combined with a weakened physical state, elderly loved ones are more likely to sustain a fall. Multiple medications taken at once can further increase the risk of falling.
POST-HOSPITAL RETURN. Elderly are much more likely to fall in a weakened state. Any type of surgery or other significant medical procedure is likely to increase your loved one’s risk of falling.
SURROUNDINGS. Small pieces of furniture, rugs, beds and even other loose objects such as magazines or shoes are responsible for countless falls each year. Living alone can increase the risk of falls, especially if your loved one lives in a cluttered surrounding.
FEAR OF FALLING. The fear of falling again is significant for elderly who have already experienced a fall. Because the fear of falling places a psychological limit on daily activities, elderly tend to have reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness. This, in turn, actually leads to more falls.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM: HOW CAN WE PREVENT FALLS?
Along with the cooperation of our loved ones, we can take a proactive stance in reducing the risk of elderly falls. Whether our elderly friends and family are in their own homes or in residential care or assisted living facilities, it’s easy to help them stay safe.
ENCOURAGE EXERCISE. One of the best ways to prevent falls is by strengthening the human body with exercise and movement. Take your elderly friends and family for a walk or go to the mall for some shopping. Even these seemingly minor activities can go to great lengths to improve balance, flexibility and strength. If the local senior community center offers Tai Chi – a Chinese exercise that focuses on movement – take your loved ones for a session each week.
REVIEW MEDICATIONS. In concert with your loved one’s doctor, take a look at the medications that could be causing dizziness or weakness. Don’t forget any over-the-counter medicines that can cause further deterioration when combined with prescription meds. It’s also a good idea to make sure your elderly friends and family have their eyes checked on a yearly basis.
ENSURE ADEQUATE POST-HOSPITAL AFTER-CARE. Consider a bedside nurse or in-home care to provide close care to your loved one after having undergone any serious medical procedure.
IMPROVE HOME SURROUNDINGS. Reduce tripping hazards by replacing or entirely removing common furnishings that can result in falls including rugs, small tables such as magazine racks, standing coat racks or unstable furniture. Increase lighting by choosing brighter light bulbs to increase visibility and use night lights when possible. And add grab bars to showers, tubs and alongside the toilet to reduce bathroom-related falls.
Remember, falls are the top cause of accidents in people over the age of 65 but we can work together to reduce the risk by following the tips above. Share this article to help spread awareness.
Guest Post by Michael Pines
Michael Pines is a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC in San Diego, California. He is an accident and injury prevention expert on a campaign to end senseless injury one article at a time. Catch Mike on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.