According to a recent CDC report, “one out of four older adults will fall each year…making falls a public health concern, particularly among the aging population.”
Every year, millions of American seniors aged 65+ suffer from falls that cause severe injuries. Falls also increase the frequency of emergency room visits, impacting the healthcare system. Bone fractures and breaks, as well as head trauma are common injuries resulting from falls. Fall risks for seniors have many long-term implications such as hospitalization, injury, and the need for ongoing physical therapy. Recognizing the symptoms, and causes of falls are key to reducing their impact on seniors.
Causes & Symptoms
The most common cause of falls is old age. As the human body gets older, our depth perception, cognitive abilities and our sense of balance begin to change. This causes common household items like small stools, steps, and even bathtubs to become areas of concern.
One study, conducted by the government of Canada, found that the following risk factors increased the likelihood of falls:
- Seniors who live alone
- Seniors who have fallen in the past year (recurring falls)
- Seniors who take 3 or more medications daily
- Seniors who have been diagnosed with 3 or more ongoing medical conditions such as Alzheimers, dementia, or Parkinson’s to name a few
Falls also have long-term health implications with hospitalization and injury recovery.
Extended hospitalization due to a fall can be difficult to navigate at any age. Add underlying factors like age and chronic conditions, and it becomes more complex.
- Staying in a hospital means being in an unfamiliar environment for an extended period of time. It’s also disruptive and can feel isolating being away from the comfort of home.
- Patients with Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s find hospitalization to be especially stressful and disruptive. Familiar environments and routines are an essential part of the daily routine for them and provide consistency when living with these conditions. Being in a hospital with the lights, sounds, and constant activity can be very disorienting, which exacerbates the symptoms of dementia.
- Extended hospitalizations also end up being costly. Some seniors require added support like a family member or full-time caregiver to stay with them which is also an added expense.
Injury recovery from a fall can be a lengthy process for older adults. It also impacts daily life and decisions on different fronts.
- The CDC reports that “one out of every five falls causes an injury such as broken bones or a head injury.” Healing a bone fracture or recovering from a head injury are serious, long-term health concerns. Aging bones tend to take longer to heal. Head injuries can have cognitive impacts that can result in memory loss or confusion. These types of injuries can take months to heal.
- Injuries also affect daily routines such as medication protocols, treatments, doctors visits, social outings, and even physical activities like yoga or going for a walk. Recovering from a concussion might mean no television, while a hip fracture means limited mobility. For seniors, the impacts of these injuries (even minor ones) can be long-lasting.
- Physical therapy to help recover from injury also has many considerations. From planning the therapist’s visits (in-home) or organizing non-emergency medical transport to take the patient to the therapist’s office. Physical therapy can also be painful for patients with underlying conditions like Parkinson’s where the joints become rigid.
While falls are a common occurrence in the 65+ aged population, they do not have to be the norm. Older adults can utilize multiple options and tools to help reduce the risk of falls and live safe, independent, and healthy lives.
- It is important to stay active and maintain a healthy lifestyle to minimize fall risks. Being able to maintain mobility can help avoid a fall or even getting up after a fall.
- Communicating any changes in health with a physician is very important in minimizing fall risks. Medications or health conditions that cause dizziness need to be managed and monitored. Also, early onset of conditions like Alzheiemrs, dementia or Parkinson’s which present with disorientation, memory loss, confusion, etc contribute to fall risk as well. Sharing symptoms or concerns with a doctor can help with an early diagnosis too.
- Annual wellness checks like eye/ ear exams, and blood pressure checks also help ensure a healthy lifestyle and minimize fall risks.
- Home safety changes play a big role in minimizing fall risks. Decluttering the home, adding safety railings in the bathroom and on any stairwells, and ensuring that the home is well-lit at night.
- In a situation where older adults are living with progressive or chronic conditions that limit the ability to live safely on their own, then an in-home caregiver can help reduce fall risks by implementing and managing safety protocols in the home.
At Care Mountain, for over 17 years, we have focused experience providing in-home care and support for you or your loved ones across the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex for over 4000 families. Our thorough and extensive hiring process ensures that we work with experienced caregivers who understand the multiple factors that require in-home caregiving and can help provide a safe and supportive environment for your loved one.
Our experience also helps us provide a nuanced and personalized level of care throughout Dallas and Ft. Worth areas. Caregiving is a full-time requirement that most family members cannot provide on a part-time basis.
Care Mountain’s extensive network of in-home caregivers can provide support across the Metroplex across Plano, Allen, McKinney, Preston Hollow, Dallas, Highland Park, Fort Worth, Southlake, Arlington and many more. Contact us today to see how we can help provide support and 24/7 care to help you or your loved one navigate their journey of in-home care.
Fall Risk Among Seniors – A MAJOR Problem