Ask your elderly loved ones what their greatest fears are, and you’re likely to hear one common theme throughout: the fear of falling. So many seniors have witnessed friends and acquaintances suffer the consequences of a fall, and understand just how devastating to health and independence a fall can be. Senior falls often result in hip fracture, head trauma, lacerations and other serious injury leading to loss of function and independence. Falls in the elderly can also result in death, and are a leading cause of injury and death in those over age 65. Although falls among the elderly can and do happen frequently, most falls are preventable.
It’s estimated that one in three adults age 65 and over will experience senior falls each year. Of those who fall, as many as 20-30% will suffer injuries that make it hard for them to get around and live independently. When we think of falls, our minds often go to tripping hazards in the home or just a loss of balance, and although these can be contributing factors, there are multiple reasons why the elderly suffer falls.
The following are common reasons that seniors find themselves victims of dangerous falls:
- Cognitive Issues: Changes in mental abilities, such as occur with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, can affect balance, increase wandering and impair judgment.
- Coordination Difficulties: As we age, coordination, reflexes and agility are diminished.
- Muscular Weakness: Without regular exercise, muscles weaken and reduce a person’s ability to balance and stay steady. Muscle weakness can be related to a chronic illness or a short-term illness.
- Environmental Hazards: Over one-third of injuries from falls are due to hazards in the home, such as poor lighting, slippery rugs or unsteady furniture.
- Medications: When a person takes medications, side effects, such as a reduction in alertness, balance or blood pressure can occur. Seniors often are on multiple medications with many different side effects, which increases their risk of falling.
- Sensory Deficits: Conditions such as impaired vision from cataracts and glaucoma affect depth perception, peripheral vision, visual acuteness and glare.
While senior falls are a threat to the health and independence of older adults and can significantly limit their ability to remain self-sufficient, the opportunity to reduce falls among older adults has never been better. At Nightingale Homecare of Phoenix, each of our patients is screened for fall risk at the time of admission to care. Our professional clinicians work together through our Paces fall prevention program to develop a customized fall reduction plan that addresses all of the unique factors that contribute to that client’s risk.
Want to help reduce fall risk for your older loved ones? Contact the aging care experts at Nightingale Homecare at (602) 504-1555 and arrange for a free in-home consultation to learn more.