Falls: Potential health risk among the elderly

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Falls among the elderly poses as a significant health risk. Among younger individuals, falls only result to a few bruises and minimal soreness. As for the elderly, it can result to fractures and loss of mobility and independence.

Various factors can contribute to the increased risk for falls among the elderly and the associated injuries.

Risk factors to falls

The physical changes linked with the aging process can contribute to a higher risk for falls including:

  • Arthritis
  • Erratic heartbeat
  • Difficulty in maintaining proper balance
    Various factors can contribute to the increased risk for falls among the elderly and the associated injuries.
  • Weakened muscular strength and tone
  • Slower reflexes
  • Bladder and urinary dysfunction
  • Diminished visual capabilities

Remember that individuals aged 65 and older are likely to experience falls every year. Most elderly might be using medications that contribute to confusion, dizziness or slowed reflex responses. These usually include medications for heart disease, high blood pressure and sleeping.

In some cases, muscle relaxants and diuretics can also increase the risk for falls. A doctor should be consulted first before these medications are discontinued.

Lifestyle changes

  • Regular activities to improve balance and enhance muscle tone can minimize the risk for falls.
  • A doctor should be consulted for a suitable exercise program such as aerobics or weight-training.
  • A healthy diet can also help maintain healthy bones that are less likely to break. The diet must include enough calcium and vitamin D. Good sources include cheddar cheese, fortified oatmeal, egg yolks, non-fat or fortified milk, calcium-fortified orange juice and plain low-fat yogurt.

Fall-proof house

Most cases of falls occur in the house when an individual is performing his/her daily tasks especially when using the bathroom. Keeping the house free from obstructions can greatly help in preventing falls.

  • Keep the floor free from clutter
  • Check for any loose carpeting or floor boards on the stairs
  • The bed should be easy to get in and out of
  • Keep kitchen supplies within easy reach
  • Keep light switches within easy reach
  • Keep walking pathways free from extension cords and other wires
  • Elevate the toilet seat or place a sturdy plastic seat in the bathtub
  • Bathroom walls should be equipped with grab or holding bars

Additionally, it is recommended to use sturdy shoes with non-skid soles that properly fit while walking around the house to lower the risk for falls and slips.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on falls is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage injuries from falls, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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