Falls in the elderly and the resulting injuries are commonplace in seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), millions of adults over the age of 65 suffer a fall every year. What’s more, 1 in 5 falls cause serious injury. These injuries can include abrasions, broken bones, head injuries, scrapes, paralysis and even death. Falls are reported to be the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in senior citizens.
Falls in the elderly are increasing at an alarming rate, and 2.8 million older adults are treated in emergency departments for fall-related injuries. Seniors may suffer from depression and isolation due to fear of falling, and in turn, activities may be limited, leading to a decline in their physical abilities. Steps should be taken to prevent falls in the elderly before falls occur.
Why It Is Important to Report Falls in the Elderly
Many aging relatives fail to report their falls, and their injuries may go unnoticed or even develop later on, leading to more severe problems. There can be many causes of falls in the elderly, including:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Poor footwear and foot problems
- Vision problems
- Muscle weakness
- Unsteady gait
- Home hazards
However, prevention of falls in the elderly may be as simple as a few changes in the environment.
The Risk Factors
Several risk factors are known to be the causes of falls in the elderly. Some falls may be a combination of factors. The good news is that many of these causes of falls in the elderly can be prevented or modified.
One easily modifiable risk is a safe living environment. A simple way to ensure that an older person is safe in their home environment is to ensure they wear proper footwear that features non-skid soles to prevent slipping.
Routine Exams and Exercise
A routine examination by a doctor may aid in the prevention of falls in the elderly by ensuring that an older person is following a healthy eating plan. Weakness and vitamin deficiencies can lead to weakness and dizziness, causing falls in the elderly. Physical therapy may be an option for an elderly person needing increased muscle strength. Regular exercise and a diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins are crucial to maintaining strong and healthy bones.
Also, as we age, our vision decreases. Regular visits to an eye doctor can also help to prevent falls. An elderly person should have an updated prescription for any needed corrective lenses. Problems such as cataracts and glaucoma are manageable with regular visits and use of medications.
Falls in the elderly can be prevented to a point. Start by taking simple steps to declutter living spaces and clear walkways. Schedule routine doctors’ appointments to maintain health, and talk to your loved one’s primary doctor about other ways to reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries in your aging loved ones.
Fall prevention infographic courtesy of caringpeopleinc.com