Falls in Senior Citizens: Causes, Consequences and Prevention

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Falls in senior citizens occur more frequently than we think. They are one of the most important problems they suffer, since they can cause injuries and even undermine their self-esteem and cause them fears and dependency

In fact, according to several studies based on accidents in the seniors, one in three people over 64 years suffers from a fall. Unfortunately, this is more common among the octogenarians, where one person in two suffers from it. In home care services are very demanded after this kind of events.

And while most falls in the older adults at home or away cause mild injuries, more than 5 percent end up in hospital for the fractures they cause.

That’s why these types of setbacks, if repeated over time, indicate possible instability in the older person. Alternatively they can be the result of a disability resulting from previously undetected pathologies. In this article the Nomenial team explores this topic.

Falls in the senior citizens are not accidental

Falls in the older adults are not a coincidence. They are one of the geriatric syndromes with the highest incidence among this sector of the population. Therefore, they must be taken into special consideration to mitigate the repercussions they cause in the person.

Moreover, half of the victims of these accidents suffer them repeatedly, and it is believed among experts that paradoxically each fall increases the chances of suffering many more.

That is why falls themselves must be taken very seriously and the misconception that they are part of the daily life of the older adults must be put aside. It is not only something natural produced by aging itself.

Our main objective in this article is to know the main causes that produce the falls in old people and the different factors that help them to happen, in order to reduce them.

Possible causes of falls in the older adults

The possible causes of falls in the older adults attend to a multitude of factors both external and the person’s own health (internal).

External factors of falls in senior citizens at home

The external causes that can cause accidents are found in the obstacles that are in the home, such as

  • Liquids or objects on the floor.
  • Tripping over pets.
  • Precipitation from carpets.
  • Walking in the dark or in low light.
  • Something very important to keep in mind is that many times the older adults, with more fragility, have falls when performing their self-care activities.

For this reason, it is interesting to avoid them that they may have an expert in the care of older people who can attend to their needs in those moments that require greater skill.

Internal factors in senior citizens

Among the internal causes can be found:

Motor causes. The person’s motor functions strongly influence the risk he or she may have of falling. There are many studies that corroborate the close relationship between the greater dependence of the older adult on basic daily activities and a greater risk of suffering from falls, due to decreased muscle strength and lack of balance.

Mental factors. Depression and cognitive impairment, as well as the fear of falling again, influence the deterioration of mobility. It is for this reason that when social contacts are reduced due to these disorders and the fear of suffering more accidents ends up leading to even more falls.

Pathological causes and diseases. Medical factors, among which are temporary or chronic diseases, affect the cardiovascular system, the neurological system and the musculoskeletal system. They are also an important factor to assess in the falls of the older adults.

It is advisable to make a checkup of the sight and hearing of the affected person.

On the other hand, the state of the feet and the step also usually affects remarkably.

Pharmacological causes. To review the treatment that the person takes and to readjust it, if it was necessary, is fundamental. Seeing that the doses taken are adequate can reduce the risk of further falls. As well as checking that you are not self-medicating.

On the other hand, there are some drugs such as those used to treat Parkinson’s, hypertension and even antidepressants or anxiolytics, which could be behind these accidents.

Consequences of falls for senior citizens

  • Minor to major injuries.
  • Greater dependence to perform daily activities.
  • Need to hire a caregiver for hours or all day.
  • They significantly affect the quality of life of the older adults.
  • They reduce mobility due to fractures.
  • Possibility of being partially or totally immobilized due to severe fractures.
  • Hospital admissions and operations in some cases.
  • Frequently the falls cause important injuries.
  • Death by the own fall.

Preventing falls in the older adults at home and outdoors

To avoid falls in the older adults, we must first be clear about the possible causes that we have discussed above. Examples include the physical and psychological conditions of the person, the medication they are taking for their ailments and the risk factors at home.

In this way, we can be fully aware of what exactly is happening to the older adults person and address the issue at first from the root. This is very important.

On the other hand, our recommendation is that, if the older adults person suffers repeated falls, the most convenient thing to do is to hire at least an live-in caregiver, for those moments when they need to perform self-care tasks or even accompany them for walks, among other issues.