Falls in the elderly population are the main cause of accidents, serious injuries and accidental deaths in people over the age of 64. The mortality rate is high three months after the fall. Falls can be physically devastating, but they may also lead to loss of self-confidence and independence.
Causes of falls
There are many of possible causes of falls in elderly and they are all considered risk factors. The most probable causes of falls in the elderly are coming with age. Poor eyesight, poor hearing and locomotor problems are some of the most frequent factors. Illness and bad physical condition may negatively affect the strength and balance, but falls are also common in healthy and strong individuals.
Certain medications may have an effect on one’s balance and initiate the fall. Medications used in treatment of depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart conditions are considered to be especially dangerous. Patients who take four or more prescribed drugs are at somewhat higher risk to fall. Recent changes in medication or dosage may also influence one’s balance and ability to resist falling.
The good thing is that the many causes and risk factors are preventable. A person may help to prevent falls by wearing shoes with nonskid soles instead of house slippers, for example. The house should be well lit during the whole day so that the elderly people can see the obstacles.
House rugs and carpets should be removed or fastened to the floor. It is important to remove electrical cords from pathways and put grab bars in the bathtub, shower and the toilet area. Elderly people should not climb on stools and stepladders and avoid waxing of the floor. Sidewalks and walkways in their home should be repaired from cracks so that the surfaces are stable and even.
It is crucial to do regular health check-ups and diagnose any vision changes, cataracts, glaucoma or other eye problems on time. Elderly people should also check hearing, at least every two years. Sore feet, foot pain or corns may also provoke the fall and it is important to treat them properly. Feeling dizzy, weak or unsteady is an alarming signal. Doctors should be informed about them as well as about if any kind of prescribed medication is making their patients feel dizzy or out of balance.
Elderly people should do their best to keep the body in a good shape by the means of regular exercise. It is advisable to quit smoking and limit alcohol intake to less than a two drinks per day.