Unfortunately, the elderly and frail are most susceptible to falls which can cause serious discomfort and injury to them. According to the NHS, around one in three adults over the age of 65 who live at home will have at least one fall a year. Once somebody has a fall it can affect their confidence, which in-turn can create a sense of fear or isolation. Falls can occur due to various medical reasons, as well as hazards around the home. This article will share some of these causes of falls in the elderly and also give some quick tips on how to reduce the risk.
Causes of Falls
There are two main causes of falls in the elderly: a person’s health and the environment that they live in. Health conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease, Arthritis and Hypertension can cause periods of dizziness which can trigger instability when moving.
Older people can become less active, which in-turn affects their physical well-being. Muscles weaken, bone mass decreases and co-ordination can be lost. All of this naturally makes mobility a little harder, and a fall more likely.
Poor vision can also increase the risk of a fall. Poor vision makes it difficult to spot trip hazards, both around the home and on the streets, such as high kerbs, puddles and wires. We advise anybody who has concerns about their vision to visit an optician as soon as possible.
Speaking of trip hazards, there are many obstacles around the home that can cause somebody to fall. It’s important to try and keep our homes as tidy as possible and to remove as many obstacles on the floor as possible. Possible hazards include:
- Clutter – Shoes, items of clothing, toys, magazines, plates or TV remotes.
- Flooring – Loose carpets, slippery laminate floors or spillages in the kitchen.
- Lighting – Poor, dim lighting can make it harder to see.
- Staircase – The stairs can become more challenging with age. It’s easy to slip coming down them, or to trip going up them.
- Bathroom – Getting out of the bath or shower can be a slippery challenge for anybody, with a much higher fall risk.
How to Reduce Risk of Falls in the Elderly
Although some falls cannot be prevented, due to a person’s health, there are some ways in-which we can reduce the risk. These include:
- Remove tripping hazards from around the home, such as wires and shoes.
- Install grab bars in key locations such as the bathroom and hallway.
- Making sure items such as pans and plates are easily accessible.
- Install a stair lift to avoid having to walk up and down the stairs.
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
For many families, an older relative suffering a fall can be a motivator to find a long term care home for them. Although such a decision is made with their relative’s safety in mind, it may not be necessary.
There are other causes that contribute to falls in the elderly, besides being frail or suffering from poor eyesight. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that illnesses such as urinary tract infections, respiratory infections and bloodstream infection can lead to falls. The symptoms the infections cause like low blood pressure and dizziness explain why people have falls when ill.
“Researchers analysed 161 patients who went to the emergency room because they fell and were subsequently diagnosed with a coexisting infection.” – The Telegraph
A Telecare alarm may be a good solution for those prone to feeling under the weather, as it will enable them to keep their independence by staying at home. The Telecare system is easy to use and allows the user to wear a MyAmie Pendant around their wrist or neck. If the the wearer has a fall then he or she simply needs to press the red button on their pendant and help will soon be with them.
The push of the button sends a message to our 24/7 monitoring centre, who will then try to communicate with the user over the alarm’s loudspeaker. Help will then be contacted via the user’s selected family members, close friends or neighbours, and via the emergency services if they are also needed.