The young and able-bodied can just tumble and dust themselves off and carry on. It’s a different case for the elderly as falls may result in serious injuries or worse, may even prove fatal. Falls can result in hip fractures, broken bones, and head injuries. Even minor falls may affect seniors mentally and emotionally, hindering them from staying active and living their life fully.

Several factors can contribute to falls among seniors. Knowledge of these can help in reducing the risk of falls and consequential injuries.

Impaired Vision

An elderly person’s eyes can deteriorate as less light reaches the retina, making contrasting edges, tripping hazards, and obstacles a lot difficult to see. Even a senior who is in top shape is susceptible to a nasty tumble and a resulting injury. Moreover, a senior’s refusal to wear eyeglasses and using low vision equipment can lead to a fall.

Medications

The wide variety of prescriptions available increase the risk of a senior’s mishap. Some over-the-counter medications have side effects such as dizziness, dehydration or interactions with each other that can lead to a fall. Sedatives, antidepressants, anti-psychotics, opioids and some cardiovascular drugs are the most common culprits.

Decline in Physical Activities

Most adults have less time and therefore make less effort to stay active, which allows the physical effects of aging to progress further. The failure to engage in even the least amount of exercise results in reduced muscle strength, decreased bone mass, loss of balance and coordination, and reduced flexibility.

Chronic Diseases

More than 80% of elderly people have at least one chronic condition like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, have suffered a stroke, or arthritis which cause weakness in extremities, poor grip strength, balancing issues, and cognitive impairment. These physical conditions increase the risk of falling and minimize their ability to respond to and recover from hazards like tripping or slipping.

Falls can be prevented. Having a medical professional evaluate one’s risk of falling, asking a pharmacist to review medications, and seeking advice about taking Vitamin D are among the preventive ways to avoid falls. Moreover, seniors should also have their eyes checked at least once a year and be encouraged to do exercises that will keep their balance intact and their legs strong.

Source:

https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/falls-in-elderly-people-133953.htm
https://www.healthxchange.sg/seniors/ageing-concerns/fall-prevention-elderly
https://www.ncoa.org/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/preventing-falls-tips-for-older-adults-and-caregivers/6-steps-to-protect-your-older-loved-one-from-a-fall/