Thirty percent of people over 65 and 50% of those over 80 fall each year. At one year follow up, 20% of frequent fallers are in hospital, in full time care or have died.  Older adults are hospitalized for fall-related injuries five times more often than they are for injuries from other causes. Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths among people 65 and older; half occur in their own home. Falls include dropping from a standing position, or from exposed positions such as those on ladders . The severity of injury is generally related to the height of the fall. The state of the ground surface onto which the victim falls is also important, harder surfaces causing more severe injury. Thirty five percent of people over 65 who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries such as lacerations, fractures, and head traumas.  The most common and serious are fractures of the spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, The fear of  falling may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, and in turn increases their actual risk of falling.

 

 

What may cause falls in the elderly?

 

  • Poor lighting due to low luminance of existing lights . Eyesight deteriorates with age, and extra lighting will be needed where seniors move frequently.
  • Stairs with inadequate handrails, or too steep, encouraging trips and falls. The steps should be spaced widely with low risers, and surfaces should be slip-resistant.
  • Rugs/floor surfaces with low friction, causing poor traction and individual instability. All surfaces should have a high friction coefficient with shoe soles.
  • Clothing/footwear poorly fitted,shoes of low friction against floor. Rubber soles with ribs normally have a high friction coefficient, so are preferred for most purposes. Clothing should fit the user well, without trailing parts (hems falling below the heel and loose shoe strings) which could snag with obstacles
  • Lack of equipment/aids such aswalking sticks or walking frames. Grab bars and hanging straps should be supplied plentifully, especially in critical areas where users may be vulnerable.
  • Balance and Gait

As a result of stroke disease, Parkinsonismarthritic changesneuropathyneuromuscular disease or vestibular disease.

 

 

Falls can be prevented by ensuring to take care of all these factors. Some tips to prevent falls are:

 

  • Exercise regularly. It is important that the exercises focus on increasing leg strength and improving balance, and that they get more challenging over time. Tai Chi programs are especially good.
  • Ask their doctor or pharmacist to review their medicines—both prescription and over-the counter—to identify medicines that may cause side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.
  • Have their eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year and update their eyeglasses to maximize their vision. Consider getting a pair with single vision distance lenses for some activities such as walking outside.
  • Make their homes safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and improving the lighting in their homes.

To lower their hip fracture risk, older adults can:

  • Get adequate calcium and vitamin D—from food and/or from supplements.
  • Do weight bearing exercise.
  • Get screened and, if needed, treated for osteoporosis.
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