Falls in the elderly are an important cause of morbidity and mortality. In older people, a fall could result in very serious injuries and future health problems for the person, which can be very painful and expensive. In order to prevent this issue, it is important to know what causes seniors to fall so easily, so in this article we will present the most common causes of falls in the elderly.
Chronic conditions and illnesses
Having certain chronic conditions or illnesses, like dementia, cardiac arrhythmias or Parkinson’s disease, could increase the risk of a fall. This happens because the illness can cause loss of balance, dizziness, a brief loss of consciousness, fainting or weakness in the extremities. Having a chronic condition or illness can also make more difficult the recovery process or rehabilitation after a fall. Medicare Supplement Plans 2018 are essential to senior health care.
Impairments due to aging
As we age, our bodies change and they don’t have the same capacities as before. Visual impairment, for example, could be a cause of falls in the elderly, because people could not detect obstacles or changes in the ground level. Another thing that could contribute is muscle weakness or poor hearing because they could affect strength and balance. In addition to this, seniors could also increase their possibilities of falling if they don’t follow the recommendations of their doctors to correct these impairments, like wearing glasses or using walking sticks.
Inadequate conditions at home
We could think that an older person is safer at home than in the street, but it is estimated that around 60% of falls happen at home. This happens because our houses are not made for the elderly, especially if they have a motor disability or an illness. There are some environmental hazards at home that can increase the risk of a fall. For example, having poor lighting in some areas because of low luminance or the lack of enough lamps. As we age, our eyesight deteriorates and it can be harder for seniors to identify obstacles or danger if there isn’t enough light. Then we have cluttered and inadequate areas for the elderly. Having our living room full of things on the floor, using loose carpets, having slick floors or not having enough safety equipment at home, like devices on the bathroom walls so a senior can grab them, are all factors that increase the risk of falling. If you live in a house with more than one floor, it is important to have adequate handrails and not so high or narrow steps.
The side effects of a wide variety of medications could also be a cause of falls in the elderly. Sedatives, anti-depressants and cardiovascular medications are just examples of some of them. They usually affect the balance, cause dizziness, sleepiness or low blood pressure. Another thing that increases the risk of falling is taking multiple treatments at the same time, and this is very common among the elders, as at least 40% of older adults take multiple drugs weekly in the U.S. This is understandable because they usually have to treat multiple conditions and take supplements, but it increases the number of side effects that could affect the person.
The lack of exercise
Not having enough physical activity is a factor that clearly increases the risk of a fall. If a senior does not exercise, he accelerates the effects of aging, like muscle weakness or decreased bone mass. This will result in less strength, loss of balance, bad coordination and reduced flexibility, which could make difficult getting up after a fall or falling when trying to grab something to avoid the impact.