Falls are common among individuals of all ages. A typical trip-and-fall event may involve a skinned knee or maybe even a broken wrist. For a younger person, the healing process is relatively short, and there are few long-term ramifications. However, for people over the age of 65, the risk increases significantly. Over 3 million older adults are treated for falls each year. The long-term effects of these events often include drastic lifestyle changes, prolonged immobility, and even death.
Loss of strength, balance issues, and poor eyesight are a few contributing factors as to why one in five people over the age of 65 are hospitalized as the result of a fall. Once an older person has fallen for the first time, their chance of falling again doubles. To make matters worse, their mortality rate also increases by 21% within the first year. Falls also create psychological liabilities that can further compound the risk.
After a fall, many seniors withdraw from their previously active lifestyles and regular social routines as a way of avoiding future falls. This reduced amount of activity also contributes to decreased mobility. In a cruel twist, reduced physical activity only makes the body weaker. As a result, seniors become more prone to falling as their strength declines. Those who have suffered a fall and cope with increased dependence may require caregivers to assist with day to day activities.
Common Risk Factors for Falls Among Older People
Falls can happen for reasons as simple as unstable footing when taking a step off the front porch, lightheadedness while rising from a seat, or tripping over the edge of a rug. Other risk factors for falls include:
- Lower body weakness.
- Vitamin D deficiency.
- Walking and balance difficulties.
- Use of medications such as sedatives and antidepressants.
- Vision problems.
- Falling blood pressure from standing up, which can lead to fainting or dizziness.
- Foot pain.
- Improperly fit footwear.
- Tripping hazards in the home.
A medical evaluation will help identify potential areas for concern. Determining factors that might lead to a fall before it ever happens could save lives. It could also reduce potentially costly medical bills and rehabilitation time. Falls can also be a sign of other underlying medical problems. So, be proactive with follow up medical visits to ensure that proper attention is taken to prevent future falls.
Action For Fall Prevention
Falling is not a natural process of aging but is a risk. Seniors can reduce the likelihood of falls through lifestyle adjustments and the implementation of Evidence-Based Fall Prevention Programs led by the NCOA, National Council on Aging.
- Exercise: After consultation with a doctor to determine possible medical reasons for a fall, establish a regular exercise routine to build a strong core and healthy muscle mass.
- Schedule an eye exam: Consider not using bifocals or progressive lenses for outdoor activities. These types of lenses make it difficult to tell how close or far away things are.
- Get a mobility aid: Using a cane or walker gives seniors who are prone to falling an increased sense of security and independence. A mobility aid can greatly reduce the chance of falling, especially if neuropathy or balance are key issues.
- Home modification: Identify and remove potential tripping hazards in the home, such as unneeded furniture, clutter, area rugs, extension cords, and pet toys. Add lighting throughout the house to make possible threats more obvious. Install grab bars and rails near the shower, bath, and toilet. Also, add a seat in the shower as hard and slippery surfaces pose falling dangers.
Life After a Fall
The CDC offers extensive educational materials with the initiative STEADI – Stopping Elderly Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries, to help navigate fall prevention for you and those you care for. Reduced independence as a result of a fall often requires additional assistance with day-to-day activities. Many family caregivers are unable to take the necessary time away from work and caring for children to assist a family member recovering from a fall properly. The impact on family members who care for older adults can be detrimental, and additional help is often necessary. If you are in Arizona and someone you care for is at risk or has suffered a fall, Generations Home Health Care is available for in-home assistance.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.