Falls in the Elder Population

Updated: Nov 30, 2021

Every year, there are millions of old people who are aged 65 or older tend to fall. It is a fact that over one out of four elder people fall every year, however, lesser than half of these will inform their physicians. When a person falls once, it will double one's chances of falling again. All falls must be taken seriously as these can seriously affect one’s general well-being due to either fracture of bones or any serious nature of the head injury. These types of injuries tend to decrease the capability of an individual to move around or to do day-to-day activities or even lead a normal life.

Falls form one of the foremost leading reasons for injury-related patient visits in emergency departments. These falls constitute the main reason for accident-related death in individuals who are more than 65 years of age. There is an increase in the rate of mortality related to falls that increases dramatically with age in both sexes and all racial and ethnic groups, with falls accounting for 70 percent of trauma-related deaths in elders over 75 years of age. Falls are indicative of poor health and function stability and are frequently linked with death/morbidity. Over 90 percent of cases with hip fractures take place due to falls and most of these fractures occur in persons over 70 years of age. One-third of community-dwelling elderly persons and 60 percent of nursing home residents fall each year.

Approximately 36 million older age group adults tend to fall every year which results in over 32,000 deaths in old people. Also, every year around 3 million old-age adult people receive treatment in emergency outpatient departments for any injury due to falls. One out of every five falls will result in an injury, for example, any broken bone or any injury to the head. Every year approximately 300,000 old people become hospitalized due to fractures of the hip. It has been noticed that women tend to fall in higher numbers when compared to men and they account for around three-fourths of all fractures related to the hip.

Most of the time, these falls may result in grievous types of injuries to the head. Some of these may be extremely serious, especially if an individual has been prescribed with few medicines such as blood-thinning agents. Any old person who has fallen and has injured their head must consult a doctor as soon as possible for making sure that they have not suffered from brain injury.

Most of the people who have fallen even though they have not received any injury are afraid of getting a fall again. This feeling of fall in a person may result in diminished day-to-day activities. As a result, whenever a subject becomes lesser active, they tend to become weak that causes an increase in their frequency of falls.

Risk factors associated with falls in older adults

Various researchers have identified a variety of conditions that may contribute to falls in elders. These are termed as "risk factors". Most of these risk factors may be altered and can be modified which may help towards the prevention of falls. These include Weakness affecting the lower parts of the body, deficiency of Vitamin D, if a person faces any difficulty while walking and/or balancing if a person is using medications, for example, tranquilizers, sedatives, and/or anti-depressants. Few over-the-counter available medicines can affect one’s balance and steadiness on their feet, problems affecting one’s vision, complain of pain in the foot or badly fitted foot-wear and hazards in-home or presence of certain dangers likewise the presence of broken and uneven steps and any throw rugs or cluttered items which can result in one tripping over and falling. Many of these falls are the result of various combinations of numerous risk factors. The greater the numbers of risk factors any person possesses, the higher are their chances to fall. Other various reasons for falls among elderly people are accidents, falling from bed, environmental risks, disturbances in gait, arthritis leading to painful movements, vertigo, consumption of alcohol and various medicines, any acute form of illness, mental confusion, Impairment in cognitive abilities, postural hypotension, epileptic attacks, central nervous system disorders, syncope, etc.

Complications of Falls in elders

Most of the falls may result in any type of injury. However, 1 out of 5 episodes of falls has been reported to be associated with any serious type of injuries such as a fractured bone or any injury to the head. These sorts of injuries may make it difficult for any person to recover, perform day-to-day activities and lead a self-dependent life. Most of the time these falls may cause fractures of bones such as wrists, arms, ankles, and hips. Additionally, falls resulting in injuries to the head may be extremely serious, especially if a person is prescribed blood thinners. Such injuries can be fatal at times.

How to prevent Falls in elders?

Whenever reasons behind an elder person’s fall are undetermined and if the person is at a high risk of fall, one must refer to “falls prevention programs". Recently few studies have demonstrated that these programs may significantly cause a reduction in the rate of falls among elders.

As a preventive measure, one must speak to his doctor or healthcare giver for evaluating his or her risk of falling and discuss specific measures one can take against falling. Also, one can request a doctor and/or pharmacist for reviewing medications (that are either prescribed or over-the-counter medicines) if these are responsible for causing dizziness or sleepiness. Thus, making modifications to existing prescriptions can aid in improving this issue in a bigger manner. One can take vitamin D supplements after getting prescriptions. One can regularly do exercises for improving strength and balance. One must get their eye-sight checked by an ophthalmologist yearly and get the lenses corrected if required. One should take steps to make one's home safe by adopting a few simple protocols: a) remove stuff that can be tripped over b) attach grabbing handles or bars in bathrooms and toilets c) Install railings on either side of the stairs or modify existing restraining systems and by addition of more electrical bulbs. Behavioral changes like the use of ankle pumps and elevation of the head of the bed, Reducing dosages of drugs such as ones that can cause hypotension, wearing pressure stockings, asking doctors to prescribe drugs such as fludrocortisone for increasing vascular pressure. Use of non-pharmacological methods to treat any sleep-related issues, improvement of gait using balancing exercises. One must utilize all available opportunities for socializing and encourage individuals in this age group to participate in them. One should utilize the family and peer group support system to help improvement of their mental, physical and emotional well-being.

How Centric Healthcare Can Help?

Centric healthcare can help by providing doctors who are trained for neurological deficit assessment, by providing eye check-ups, by providing regular full body check-ups, and by guiding fall prevention.

References https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html#:~:text=Each%20year%2C%20millions%20of%20older,than%20half%20tell%20their%20doctor.&text=Falling%20once%20doubles%20your%20chances%20of%20falling%20again https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/older-adult-falls/index.html https://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0401/p2159.html#:~:text=Risk%20factors%20for%20falls%20in,cognitive%20impairment%20and%20sensory%20deficits https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html

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