Falls in the Elderly – The Serious Implications, and How to Prevent!

Serious Implications

Falling in their later years can have serious implications for our elderly neighbours and relatives. Roughly 5% of all falls in the elderly result in a fracture of some kind, and thus require hospital admission. Fractures of the hips (the femur bone or the pelvis) are most common, but fractures of the hand or wrist occur as well, due to people putting out their hands to break their fall. Falls often result in premature admission to nursing homes and frequently require surgical intervention, both of which can be life changing events when you’re in your later years. Finally, of all those admitted to hospital after a fall over the age of 70, only roughly 50% will be alive one year after, such is the trauma and impact of falls in this population.

While older people don’t necessarily fall more often then the younger population, they are more likely to be injured as a result of a fall because they are more frail and their bones tend to be structurally weaker. They are also at increased risk because their muscles get weaker and their reflexes get poorer. It’s no wonder that some people develop a fear of falling, which often results in less activity outside the home and less exercise. This in turn results in you being less fit and active, which itself has the effect of making you more likely to experience a fall.

Prevention is Crucial!

Due to the fact that falls can be so detrimental, a proactive, preventative approach is important. Keeping fit, mobile and active are all important, and some promising studies have shown that Tai Chi helps improve elderly people’s balance and co-ordination, thus reduce their overall falls risk. Walking aids can be beneficial, but making sure to introduce the correct walking aid at the right time is crucial, as otherwise they can do more harm than good. Getting these walking aids checked twice a year to make sure they are still fit for purpose is also essential. Getting a comprehensive Falls Risk Assessment in the home can identify a lot of small but significant issues which we can then work to reduce and eliminate. For more information on booking an In-Home Falls Risk Assessment with Flynn Medical Exercise, click here!

It’s not just about reducing a persons risk of falling, but also reducing their risk of injury if they do happen to experience a fall. Protective clothing like hip protectors have been shown to reduce the risk of a hip fracture having suffered a fall. Regular weight bearing exercise can also help to improve your bone strength, making them less prone to fracture. Finally, taking a proactive approach to prevent falls can help you and your elderly relatives or neighbours feel safer and more confident both when in your home and out in the community, which is worth so much in the golden years of your life.

Why not share this article on your Facebook or Twitter account so that someone with an elderly relative might see it and get them assessed, leaving them safer, healthier and happier! Thank you in advance!

Seán Flynn is the Lead Clinician with Flynn Medical Exercise, and takes patients in their Sandyford clinic. In-Home Falls Risk Assessments are also available, contact us to make a booking! PH: 0861546175

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