Falls are one of the most common accidents among seniors and the leading cause of injuries. As you grow older, many factors may increase the likelihood of falls occurring — from diagnosed health conditions to medications and changes in physical abilities or gait.
While falls cannot be avoided entirely, there are a number of tips and tricks seniors can follow for fall prevention. Understanding the importance of teaching seniors how to fall safely can prevent grave fall-related injuries and mitigate the occurrence of these falls on a regular basis.
Falls can be extremely dangerous for seniors as they can negatively affect their quality of life due to the physical and mental consequences that may arise from these accidents.
Falls are a top cause for concern in elderly individuals as they are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury-related deaths across the world. This is most common in the above 65 age group. Around 20-30% of people in this demographic may experience bruising, fractures, head trauma, and more due to falling.
In the US, a senior falls every second. An estimated 3 million seniors seek help at emergency rooms due to falls every year. Hip fractures are also one of the most common fall-related injuries. In fact, over 95% of hip fractures occur due to falls. This is more common among women because they usually have osteoporosis which weakens their bones.
Due to all of these statistics, falls are a public health concern.
In worst-case scenarios, some seniors may never recover after a fall. This could be because of existing medical conditions and the physical limitations among this older age group. Often, fall-related deaths are caused by head injury.
How seniors fall has a big impact on what happens after. If you are able to break your fall, you may end up with a few bruises. However, in more severe cases, you may find yourself with a fractured hip, sprains, or head trauma. Due to additional age-related risks, even the most minor injuries may require seniors to seek medical attention.
Medical attention can require long-term care and rehabilitation, but this may expose seniors to other risks such as infections and other diseases. A less-expected consequence of falls among the elderly is the psychological or mental turmoil these accidents can bring about.
Falls can have adverse effects on seniors’ quality of life. Seniors may be traumatized after a fall and worried about it occurring again. Fear of falling can cause some seniors to alter their day-to-day activities, confining them in such a way that their usual routine is interrupted.
Seniors may also lose the ability to care for themselves, thus affecting their self-image and dignity. This may then cause a decline in their mental health and ability to live as they normally would.
There are a number of health conditions that could be big risk factors for senior falls. These can make seniors more likely to lose balance, trip, and fall.
As previously mentioned, the nature of one’s fall can affect the severity of its consequences. Here are some ways seniors can fall safely, should they find themselves in this situation:
Although learning how to fall may be easier said than done because of all the additional risks, reading about how to overcome your fear can help restore some sense of control.
Acknowledging the fears you have about falling is the first step towards rebuilding your confidence and taking action to make sure that you do all you can to prevent these accidents from happening.
If you age in place, your family members and caretakers can do their part in making sure that your home is a safe space with minimal risks. You should feel that your home is easy to navigate and is rid of all dangers that can make your falls worse. Here are some tips for reducing the risks of falls at home:
The possibility of falling can still be frightening for many. Here are some frequently asked questions about falls:
You can teach an elderly person to fall by telling them to bend their knees and elbows, protect their heads, fall sideways, spread out the impact to their whole body, and avoid landing on their bones but on fleshier areas instead.
If your elderly parent keeps falling, encourage them to exercise to improve their balance, fall-proof the home, or take them to the doctor who can properly pinpoint what the problem is.
Around 20% of falls occur during the night, with the rest occurring during the day. Most falls at night happen between 9pm to 7am, when seniors have to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
The three types of falls are accidental falls, anticipated physiological falls, and unanticipated physiological falls.
The most common causes of falls in the elderly are a combination of different risk factors, from lower body weakness to vision and balance problems, vitamin D deficiency, medication, osteoporosis, and the like.
Now that you have more knowledge on the risk factors of falls, how to fall safely, and how to fall-proof your home, we hope you have restored confidence that you can live your life as you normally would.
For further reading, you can check out a guide to mobility equipment for seniors. Contact Senior Strong for all your elderly care needs!