It is alarming that of the millions of falls among the elderly each year, only less than half have been reported to their doctors.
The risk of falling increases proportionately with age, and those who fall once have twice the likelihood of falling again. That’s just the law of chance for people in this age group.
Those who take care of seniors, including family members, should be aware of why falls happen, what could further ensue, and how to prevent them.
Facts on Elderly Care You Ought to Know
Age remains the most common risk factor among elderlies. Other factors include:
- History. Again, just remember: If a person has fallen before, he is more likely to fall again.
- Weak leg muscles. Weaker leg muscles affects the elder’s balance and stability.
- Dizziness and vertigo. The condition called postural hypotension causes a person to feel woozy when the blood pressure suddenly drops right after getting up from a sitting or lying position. This may cause disorientation and lead to a fall.
- Medication. Some medicines have dizziness or unsteadiness as a side effect. The risk increases among elders who take more than four medications a day, as this, taken as a whole, is associated with increased cognitive deficit and heightened fear of falling.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Those who move less or are simply inactive cause their muscles to waste away much faster than those who regularly engage in physical activities. The weakened muscles, especially around the joints, may cause problems with balance.
- Gait and balance. A person’s strength and endurance declines after the age of 30. You yourself will realize this once you start to feel some difficulty performing your usual daily activities.
- Environmental hazards and clothing. Extrinsic factors such as slippery floors and footwear, uneven surfaces, and even clothing can also lead to a fall.
The list could go on and on because the thing is, as a person ages, almost anything can be a threat to his balance.
When Elders Fall
One out of five falls causes serious injuries. The wrist, arm, ankles, and hips often take the entire weight of the person when they fall, causing these to be broken or fractured.
Meanwhile, those who hit their heads must be immediately brought to see a doctor so as to rule out any brain injury.
Even those who were spared from injuries may still develop a fear of falling. They begin limiting their daily movements for fear of falling, eventually adopting a sedentary lifestyle, which increases the risk for falls.
Simple Tips to Prevent Falls
Remove environmental hazards. Fall-proofing a home, both indoors and outdoors, would need
- Installing hand rails and hand bars especially in bathrooms
- Cleaning up spills immediately and avoid wet floors.
- Applying nonslip strips on steps, floors, and ramps.
- Removing anything that may cause slipping such loose rugs, peeling carpets, or
- Improving lighting in the home
- Rearranging the furniture to leave enough room to walk around
Visit the doctor regularly. Get a doctor to look at your parent’s current medications and ask if any of these causes dizziness or drowsiness. Also, ask for a fall risk assessment and talk about specific action steps to take.
– Yan Birog for Grateful and Spry