An Introduction to
Falls can have a great impact on the health and independence of older adults. Each year one third of older adults in the United States experience falls. Falls can be devastating and deadly. One out of ten falls among older adults result in a serious injury(National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2008). Falls are also the leading cause of injury deaths among older adults. In 2004 alone, falls were responsible for 15,000 deaths. Personal injury is not the only unfortunate thing that comes from falls, they are costly. Medical costs reached up to 19 billion dollars in 2000(NCIPC, 2008). With the effect falls have on older adults, they are not wanted. One way people can help reduce the amount of falls are identifying the risks and reasons why people fall.
Common risks associated with falls include weakened muscles and loss of balance. As people age, muscles can become weak if they do not maintain their strength in their legs which can cause people to fall. Another risk that can be a factor for falls are chronic health conditions such as back pain or arthritis. Lower back pain or pain in the joints can make any movement painful specifically walking and may cause people to slip or trip. Loss of vision is a key factor to increasing the risk of falling because people would not be able to see if there is an object within their walking path and tripping over that object. Another factor to consider for falls are medications. Some medications such as muscle relaxants, blood pressure medication and sleeping pills can cause dizziness and confusion which can affect a person’s vision, mobility and reflexes. Not only are there physiological risks, environmental risks can be just as important to contribute to a fall. Environmental risks such as poor lighting, clutter on the floor as well as improper use of assisted devices can raise the risk of a fall among older adults. There are many risks involved with falls among older adults and it is important to identify them before a fall happens. After identifying the risks, it is now important to reduce the risks to prevent falls.
There are various ways to help reduce the risks of falls. One way to help reduce is to speak to a doctor. A doctor can help evaluate an individual’s risk for falling and discuss specific things to do to to help prevent falls. Doctors can also help review any medicines that an individual takes to find if any medication cause dizziness or sleepiness. Another way to help reduce the risk of falls is to have an eye exam. An eye examination can discover if there are any changes of vision for an individual and to help keep them up to date with any corrective lenses. Another important factor to reduce risks is to strengthen the muscles in the lower body and improving balance. One can strengthen the muscles in their lower body and improve their balance through exercise. There are various different exercise methods that can help improve strength and balance such as exercise classes focusing on lower body strength, Tai Chi classes as well as working one on one with a specialist. Lastly, one can make their home safer to reduce their risk of falls. Cleaning up rooms that have clutter, adding a grab bar inside and outside the shower/bathtub, adding railings in hallways or stairs, and changing light bulbs are all great ways to help reduce the risk of falling.
Overall, falls are very dangerous and costly among older adults. Not only do they affect the individual but their families as well. There are many risks that attribute to falling and it is important to identify those risks. Identifying those risks and making steps to reduce the risk of falling will lead to better and more enjoyable lifestyle.
*Sources used National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Atlanta Georgia, 2008
If you’re interested in learning more about Falls and what you could do to prevent them, please call AES Therapy & Fitness (510)748-0158.