Falls are the most common cause of death, injury and hospitalization among the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four Americans aged 65 and over falls each year.
Older people are not only more likely to fall, but also more vulnerable to injury. More than 8 million of the nearly 36 million falls that occur each year in this age group result in fall-related injuries such as a hip fracture or head injury. Understanding why older people are more vulnerable can help family caregivers take the necessary steps to keep their loved ones safe on their feet.
Aging people fall for a variety of reasons, and these are the 3 major reasons why seniors are at a higher risk of falling:
Lifestyle and human activities affect the risk of falling. This concerns the types of activities people participate in, the degree of physical activity they require, and their willingness and ability to change their daily routine to improve their safety. Laundry, for example, is a common daily task for many people, but it can be tiring for older people, especially if they have to lug a large laundry basket around the house. This is dangerous enough on its own, but they put themselves in much more danger if they refuse to wear sturdy non-slip shoes or try to climb stairs with a basket. Failure to change behavior in response to new or growing problems is a serious but all-too-common cause of falls in older people.
Medication Side Effects
The risk of falling in the elderly increases with a wide range of medications. Drowsiness, dizziness, and low blood pressure are all side effects that can lead to an accident. The most common causes are sedatives, antidepressants, neuroleptics, opioids, and certain cardiovascular drugs. According to the PolypharmacyStudy in the Elderly, 39% of this age group are taking five or more prescription drugs. Polypharmacy increases the risk of adverse drug reactions and drug-induced falls. Be aware that over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements can have significant side effects and synergistic effects.
Chronic Diseases and surgeries
Falls are caused by diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and arthritis that impair balance, physical strength, joint integrity, and/or cognitive function. A person’s ability to respond to hazards and recover from accidents such as tripping or slipping is impaired by poor physical condition. Numbness in the legs can be caused by peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage, making it harder for older people to detect environmental risks and navigate safely.
Hip replacements and other surgeries can make an aging person feel weaker, more painful, and less mobile than before. This may be a temporary problem while the patient recovers or develop into a new and long-term problem. Rehabilitation of the elderly is critical in helping older people regain as many physical, cognitive, and functional abilities as possible.
AtHome Care Embassy, we take a unique approach to fall risk reduction by combining our unrivaled clinical knowledge with critical patient education materials to help and empower families. If you suspect a loved one is in danger of falling, please email or call us today for a free home assessment to identify risk factors and develop a detailed fall reduction strategy.