Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury related deaths in adults over the age of 65? Death rates in the U.S. resulting from falls increased 30 percent from 2007 to 2016 in older adults. If the rates continue to rise, the CDC states that we can anticipate seven fall deaths every hour by 2030. Fall prevention in seniors is challenging but with the right action and measures implemented, we can lessen the risk of a detrimental outcome.
What makes a senior more likely to experience a fall?
There are many risk factors at play that contribute to falling. Here is a list of the most common ones:
- Vision issues and/or problems: Poor visibility is a big risk factor for many seniors. It can cause a lapse in concentration or an inability to properly navigate obstacles or depth while walking.
- Home hazards: Hazards can be categorized as uneven surfaces or broken steps, throw rugs, and clutter in the home.
- Medications that effect balance: Medications that can impact balance include antidepressants, sleeping pills, and tranquilizers. In addition, some over the counter (OTC) medications can cause dizziness. Always consult a pharmacist before starting a new prescription or taking a pill that you have never taken before.
- Poor footwear: Ill-fitting shoes can contribute to a variety of conditions such as ingrown toenails, bunions, and hammertoe. Many of these conditions can also affect balance and cause complications or difficulties that often set a senior up to experience fall.
- Vitamin D deficiency: Can lead to a loss of bone density, which can cause osteoporosis and contribute to fractures and/or broken bones. Vitamin D levels are also linked to sleep quality. Supplementation is the main treatment for adults over the age of 65.
Understanding the side effects of falls in seniors
When a senior experiences a fall, it doubles the chances of falling again, according to a study that looked at risk factors for falls and injurious falls among the community dwelling elderly. Not all falls result in injury, however those that fall and don’t experience a breakage or injury, often become afraid of falling again, which results in the person becoming less active. This too has detrimental effects including loss of independence, muscle weakness and depression.
If a person falls and breaks a hip, leg or arm, they may be hospitalized and need to spend time in a rehab center until they are able to move with minimal assistance. This too can lead to a weakening of muscle strength and difficulty returning to normal daily activities.
A more serious injury to the head can be particularly worrisome for a person on blood thinners. It’s imperative that an older person who experiences a fall and hits their head consults their healthcare provider immediately and rules out a brain injury.
4 tips for preventing falls in seniors
- Speak with your healthcare provider – A risk evaluation should be conducted if you believe you or a loved one are at an increased danger of falls. Consult your physician and discuss specific things you can do to prevent the probability of falling.
- Prioritize strength and balance exercises – Join a senior fitness class or practice exercises at home that focus on building lower body strength and balance. The benefits of exercise as you age are far-reaching.
- Make your home safer – Remove trip hazards and clutter to create clear pathways in the home. Have safety rails placed in bathrooms, stairways, or other parts of the home where access may be trickier, and safety is compromised.
- Schedule annual eye doctor appointments – It is recommended to have a complete eye care exam yearly to assess your risk of serious conditions that can cause changes in vision.
Adobe Care & Wellness is committed to helping its members make their homes a safe place to live by conducting at home assessments and visits. We take a holistic approach to our case management services and utilize healthcare technology innovations to help prevent illness and injury and improve overall health. While acute settings are critical to care, chances of hospitalization can be reduced when steps for prevention are taken. To learn more about Adobe Care & Wellness and the services and resources it provides its members to live a healthier better quality of life, contact us here.