Afraid to Fall!

How many times have you heard someone say my father or mother was fine before s/he fell?  For many older adults, an unexpected fall can lead to a series of events that end in serious or fatal complications.  As a result, many elderly are terribly afraid of falling.  The likelihood of falling increases even more as the elderly begin to lose their balance.  This fear of falling is one underlying reason for the elderly avoiding commonplace activities like walking, shopping, socializing.  In reality, though, most falls occur at home while doing mundane activities.  This fear helps to explain why the elderly view themselves as fragile and their caregivers would do well to adjust their thinking to this reality as well.  These falls not only make living independently more of a challenge, they also increase the risk of an early death.

Dont just fallAccording to the National Institute of Health, “falls are the number one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence, and injury deaths” among older adults in the US.  The most common fractures from falls are:  spine, hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm and hand.  About 20-30% of those who fall suffer from hip fractures and head trauma.  And, 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls.

The Center for Disease Control says that one 1 out of 3 aged 65 and older fall every year and people 75 and older who fall are four to five times more likely than those aged between 65 and 74 to be admitted to a long term care facility for a year or more.  In 2010, 2.3 million non-fatal falls were treated in the emergency room and more than 662,000 were hospitalized.  Estimated direct medical costs for these injuries were $30 billion. 

Things to do to prevent falls include:

  • Regular exercise, especially those that work on balance like yoga and tai chi, can help steady the elderly adult.
  • Have the doctor or pharmacist review all medications to identify those most likely to cause dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Make regular eye check-ups to ensure they are fitted with glasses with the optimal prescription for clear vision.  Interestingly, even wearing bifocals while walking or on steps may blur the vision enough to cause falls.
  • Elder proofing a home taking elderly needs and deficits into account much as we do for babies is often neglected.  Tripping hazards from carpets, wires, and clutter need to be removed.  Grab bars in places like the shower, tub, and toilet as well as proper lighting often prove essential.
  • Physical therapy may be useful for improving balance and walking confidence.  Your doctor or health care provider may be able to make that referral.
  • Regular dizziness may indicate an underlying medical condition with respect to blood pressure, circulation, or sensory issues which should be checked out by a physician.

Falls can be prevented and a good caregiver can minimize any negative long term effects if one does occur.  David York Agency is intimately aware of what a safe living space for an elderly person should look like and can help set that up.  Our aides are adept at anticipating potentially dangerous situations before they occur to avoid unnecessary falls.  However, if a fall should occur off our watch, our care givers will give the highest standard of care to assure the best possible outcome for your loved one.

David York Agency provides skilled home health aide services for home healthcare. We would be happy to discuss your case with you.  Visit our website at http://davidyorkhomehealthcare.com/ or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.