For elders, no injuries are as risk intensive and dangerous as suffering a serious fall. As we age, our bones dehydrate, lose density and become brittle. By the time we reach our senior years, the ability to safely ambulate and keep one’s balance becomes more difficult and requires more support and assistance from others.
According to AARP, if you are 65 and older, the probabilities of suffering a serious fall increases significantly, and consequently so do the risks of premature death. In fact, falls are considered to be the leading cause of serious injury and death among this age group. Each year, over thirty-percent of senior adults will suffer at least one serious fall. The most common, and among the most life threatening injuries are hip leg fractures, followed by brain and spine injuries.
The frequency of falls among seniors increase with each fall because even moderate injuries will negatively impact the balance and mobility of the senior, which consequently increases the chances of additional falls and additional injuries. In short, with each fall, the risk of early death increases exponentially.
In 2014, nearly 30,000 seniors died from injuries related to moderate-to-serious falls.
Things You Can Do To Prevent Falls
The most effective approach to prevent falls is to have a health-aid physically present to assist the elder to ambulate safely and also to motivate the elder to perform regular lower extremity strength and stretching exercises. This has proven to increase balance considerably and prevent falls.
Another fall prevention tip is to check with the pharmacist to determine which medications may cause dizziness and a loss of balance and to avoid ambulating while under the influence of such medications.
Make sure to get the elders vision checked on a regular basis by a qualified optometrist. Vision can decline significantly in ones later years and cataract impairment can make walking, especially in direct sunlight, more dangerous.
Evaluate the elder’s home environment in order to remove dangerous conditions. This includes pets that the elder can trip over if the area is not well lit. Also adding railings in the bathroom, especially in the tub and toilet area will provide a safer environment.
There are also electronic devices that can be purchased, worn and activated in the event the elder falls that will automatically summon emergency assistance.
Finally, senior and assisted living facilities often take significant precautions in preventing falls through the use of bed guardrails, regular observation and physical support. For those living at home, especially alone, falling still represents one of the most significant risks to the health and welfare of the elder.