According to the World Health Organization (WHO), falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide. An approximate of 37.3 million falls that require medical attention due to its severity occur each year. And those who suffer the greatest number of fatal falls are adults aged 65 and above.
Accordingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data indicates that falls are the number one cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries in American adults aged 65 and older.
Older people fall due to different factors, and their physical condition has a greater effect on the risk of falling than environmental and behavioral hazards or hazardous situations do. Several adults feel the physiological effects of aging as they become less active.
The lack of exercise can decrease muscle strength, bone quality, loss of balance and coordination, and reduced flexibility.
Consequently, their physical condition can also affect how they respond to hazards and hazardous situations. A person’s cognitive abilities decline gradually as they grow old, affecting their conceptual reasoning, memory, and information processing.
Older adults with impaired vision or chronic illnesses also have a high risk of falling. People with chronic conditions often use prescription drugs that have side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and low blood pressure.
Furthermore, environmental hazards, such as poor lighting, slippery floors, loose carpets, and clutter, contribute to the risk of falling. Other environmental factors that can jeopardize a senior’s safety are the lack of safety equipment such as handrails on stairs, grab bars in the bathroom, and uneven sidewalks and broken curbs.
Their lifestyle and behaviors can also influence their fall risk. As adults age, their strength and movements become limited. So, the activities that they engage in and the level of physical demand the activities require can attribute to a fall.
A combination of risk factors causes most falls. According to the CDC, numerous falls do not cause injuries; however, one out of five falls cause serious injuries such as broken bone or a head injury. Subsequently, people who experienced to fall, even those who were not injured, become afraid of falling.
Their fear causes them to cut down on their everyday activities, making them less active. And, doing fewer activities can lead to a person’s body to become weaker; therefore, increasing their chances of falling.
On the other hand, falls can be prevented. There are ample of activities that can keep a person from falling. Doing strength and balance exercises that can make a person’s legs stronger and improve their balance are among the best ways to prevent a person from falling.
Another is having a vision check and evaluation at least once a year can help a person update their eyeglasses if needed.
The best possible solution to avoid falls, especially for older people, is to make their homes safer and old people need home care. It is important to remove or replace things that are considered environmental hazards, including electrical or extension cords that can trip a person if it is not properly installed.
Adding brighter light bulbs in areas with insufficient lighting can help a person see things on their way, helping them avoid being tripped or falling.
This infographic of Euro-American Connections & Homecare details what causes older adults to fall.