Of all the dangers facing older adults, fall-related risks are perhaps the most common, and most deadly. Not only are the elderly more likely to fall, they’re also more likely to suffer serious and fatal injuries when they do.
Most falls are preventable. The more you learn about the common ways in which people fall, the more you can do to prevent this type of accident. Before we look at the best strategies for reducing trip and fall risks, let’s first address why falls are so deadly for the elderly.
Falls Can Be Disastrous for Older People
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that each year, millions of people age 65 and older—more than 25% of elderly people—fall. Less than half tell their doctor.
Around 20% of those falls result in fractures, head trauma, or other serious injuries. Nineteen out of every 20 broken hips are caused by falls, and falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries among older adults. Older Americans are also more likely to suffer fatal complications from a fall injury than a younger person who can heal faster and bounce back more easily.
As We Age, We Become More Susceptible to Falls
As a person ages, their balance, coordination, and bone density declines. These factors all increase the chances of falls and serious fall-related injuries. And once someone falls, their likelihood of falling again doubles.
It’s important to recognize fall risks facing elderly people, so we can do everything possible to prevent slips and falls. Some of the most common causes of falls among older people include:
- Medications that cause dizziness or drowsiness.
- Slick floors and walkways.
- Broken floors, steps, and handrails.
- Inadequate assistance in medical facilities, nursing homes, etc.
The poorer the health of an elderly person, the greater their risk of falling, and the greater their risk of breaking a bone when they do so. That’s why it’s so important for hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities that care for older adults to monitor and tend to the needs of older patients.
The rest of us can also lookout for the well-being of our older loved ones by helping them find the right walking aids, improve their homes, and adjust their lifestyles.
Reducing the Likelihood of Falls
There are several ways to eliminate fall risks in and around homes. Walking aids, such as walkers or canes, can also help at-risk adults to avoid falls. Older adults should also make sure that their shoes have adequate traction regardless of whether they wear them outside or indoors.
For an at-risk adult who lives at home, it’s important to adjust their home to accommodate their needs. This might include:
- Installing railings on stairs
- Installing ramps in place of steps
- Replacing dim lights with bright ones
- Keeping all floors and walkways free of clutter
Lifestyle choices also help older adults reduce the risks of falls. In general, the more active a person is, the less susceptible they are to slips, trips, and falls. Regularly doing balance, flexibility, and strength exercises also makes falls less likely.
For older adults who rely on medication, it’s important to recognize how those medications might impact their ability to stand and walk safely. If a medication is causing excessive dizziness or drowsiness, consult their physician to determine if there are any equally effective alternative medications that don’t cause those side effects.
Make Sure Loved Ones in Nursing Homes Are Getting Adequate Care
At Sawyer Law Firm, we handle nursing home abuse, neglect, and injury cases. We know how common and dangerous falls in nursing homes can be. Ideally, you’d be able to place your full trust in a facility to give your loved ones the care they deserve. Sadly, it’s often up to a resident’s loved ones to look out for the quality of their care.
If you have concerns about the treatment your loved one receives, don’t hesitate to alert the nursing home staff about those concerns. If your loved one has already suffered serious injuries in their nursing home, contact our Alabama nursing home abuse attorneys to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your legal options.