Why are the elderly at risk of falling?
Many of us have watched our elderly loved ones become increasingly unstable on their feet.
This can be a sad change to witness—and a scary one. According the Centers for Disease Control, accidental falls are the #1 cause of injury deaths for people 65 and older. In 2018, there were over 32,000 deaths in this age group caused by falls. By contrast, less than 3,000 adults between the ages of 55 and 64 died from fall-related injuries. For people under 25, unintentional falls aren’t even in the top ten most common causes of injury deaths.
So why do elderly people fall down so much more frequently than children and younger adults?
There are many reasons why the elderly are more susceptible to falling. These risk factors can be loosely grouped into three categories: medical factors, environmental factors, and behavioral factors.
Medical risk factors for falls
An elderly person may have one or more health conditions that can increase their risk of falling. This may include:
The effects of a stroke.
Dementia or similar diseases.
Weakness that inhibits their ability to lift their legs and feet more than a few millimeters.
Problems with the feet.
A combination of these factors can drive the risk up even higher. Certain medications can also make an elderly person more vulnerable to a fall.
Environmental risk factors for falls
Many homes are full of fixtures and tripping hazards that can be dangerous to the elderly—and that young, able-bodied people may never notice. An elderly person who can’t lift their feet very high might easily trip over an upturned rug or struggle to navigate their walker over a strip of trim. Environmental tripping hazards may include:
Uneven transitions from one room to another, such as the trim separating carpet from hardwood flooring.
Rugs, especially high-pile rugs or rugs without non-slip backing.
Bathroom fixtures, such as tall bathtubs and toilets without grab bars.
Clutter on the floor, such as laundry or children’s toys.
Many of these hazards are a greater issue for elderly people who rely on walkers to get around. A walkway wide enough for a single person may be too narrow for a walker.
Behavioral risk factors for falls.
There are two broad categories of behavioral risk factors for falls. The first is a sedentary lifestyle. Some elderly people are able-bodied enough to go for walks and engage in regular exercise. Even a modest increase in overall fitness can reduce the likelihood of a fall by up to 25%. Of course, exercise is inaccessible for many elderly people, and it’s not uncommon for the elderly to be sedentary by necessity. But it’s important to note that a sedentary lifestyle is indeed a risk factor for falls.
The second category is, to be frank, stubbornness. Some elderly people simply refuse to use canes, walkers, and other mobility tools, even if they truly need them.
How to protect your elderly loved one from a dangerous fall.
Thinking about all the possible fall hazards your elderly loved one might encounter on a daily basis can be incredibly overwhelming. You may feel incredibly anxious about the possibility of missing something and putting your loved one at risk.
Thankfully, you don’t have to bear that burden alone. CARESULTANTS can help.
CARESULTANTS is a network of elder care services professionals with years of experience keeping the elderly safe at home. We can help you remove as many fall hazards as possible from your elderly loved one’s living quarters and make their space as safe as possible. We don’t just give you a fall prevention checklist; we’ll create a custom plan. Here’s what the process may look like:
In-home consultation. A CARESULTANTS representative will come to your elderly loved one’s home and do a full audit of their living space. They’ll look at decorations, fixtures, and architectural features that may present a risk. You can trust them to catch every little detail that might go unnoticed.
Recommendations. Your CARESULTANTS representative will prepare and deliver a comprehensive list of recommended changes to the living space. These changes may be as simple as moving a rug or as complex as installing a grab bar or widening a hallway.
Execution. You can handle all these recommended changes yourself—or CARESULTANTS can do it for you. We can choose and purchase new items and supplies, hire contractors, and oversee construction, so you’re free from the stress of managing such a big project—and so many details.
With CARESULTANTS supporting your family, you can dramatically reduce the risk of your elderly loved one suffering a fall. To learn more about how we can keep your loved one safe, schedule a 15-minute call