Falling down is a part of life. When we are toddlers, falling is a natural part of learning to walk. We fall down and “go boom”. We wobble and fall when learning to ride a bike. Mastering motor skills does not come immediately for most people. Learning new physical skills requires trial, error and repetition. Once we hit adolescence, falling down is no longer acceptable. Falling is associated with embarrassment and ridicule, especially in front of your peers. It is a fate worse than death to a teenager.
The Facts on Seniors and Falling
Fast forward a few decades to senior citizenship – fall are associated with much more than embarrassment for seniors; falling down could have serious consequences. According to the Centers for Disease Control, minor, moderate, and severe injuries can occur from falling. One out of three people over the age of 65 experience a fall. Here is the alarming statistic: out of all the people that fall, less than half tell their health care professional.
Seniors make the mistake of hiding falls from their doctor, mainly due to embarrassment or the belief it was a “one time occurrence.” However, a healthcare professional will help evaluate the situation and offer suggestions to prevent future falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury for people above the age of 65. The good news is that falls are largely preventable.
Why Falls Occur
Falls occur for many reasons, but one such reason is a decrease in muscle strength, especially in the legs. People that maintain their strength, flexibility and endurance are less likely to fall. Older people with balance problems and difficulty walking are more likely to fall. This could be due to lack of exercise or an existing medical condition.
Falls can also occur due to dizziness caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up too quickly. Also, reaction times become slower with the aging process, making it more difficult to regain your balance once a fall has begun. Sometime our feet are to blame and our choice of shoes. Some medical conditions cause the feet to feel numb and decrease their ability to sense the environment around them. Unsafe footwear such as slip-on shoes or clumsy slippers could create an unsafe condition.
Low vision or poor night vision is another common cause of falls. Impaired depth perception is another visual issue that contributes to falls. Falls also occur because of clutter in the home. Electrical cords, throw rugs and clogged pathways are prime suspects when it comes to falls.
Three Fall Prevention Tips for Seniors
- Exercise is highly recommended in the war against falling. Strengthening the major muscles of the body helps to improve balance and strength and should lead to a decrease in falls.
- Talk to your healthcare practitioner to review medications or medical conditions that could contribute to a fall. They may be able to help by talking about interactions and side effects.
- Conduct a home inspection to identify potential tripping hazards. Remove all risks and create clear pathways within the home to facilitate a safe environment. Install grab bars in the shower and bath areas.
What is at Risk?
When a fall occurs, the first question asked is “Are you okay”? Hopefully the answer is ‘yes.’ Consider the following…even when serious injury does NOT occur, the victim often experiences a decrease in mobility. A fear of falling develops creating a withdrawal from physical activity that creates a further physical decline and a greater risk. This leads to a decrease in independence.
Enrolling in a PACE program offers many benefits from a medical management standpoint. Access to physicians and other clinicians in a setting that provides supervision and safety is the primary reason why participants enroll. The benefits of the recreational activities are why participants stay.
To learn more about Beacon of Life services or to refer a participant to our facility, click here to contact us or call 732-592-3400.