Senior Care Awareness: Understanding the Risk for Falls

Posted: 3/22/2016 10:16 AM by Interim HealthCare
One of the most important efforts that you can make in your senior care journey with your elderly loved one is keeping her safe. Though there are many risks that your aging parent will face as she ages in place, one of the most prevalent is falling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 2 and a half million older adults have to be treated in emergency departments throughout the country because of injuries sustained during falls. The effects of a fall can be truly devastating, leading to lasting consequences that can greatly diminish your senior's quality of life. By understanding falls and the risks for falling you and your parent's senior health care services provider can modify your care efforts to help reduce these risks and keep your senior safer.
Some things that you should know about fall risk among the elderly include:

• 20 percent of falls result in a major injury such as a head injury or a fractured bone.
• More than 700,000 people end up admitted to the hospital and undergoing an extended hospital stay due to injuries sustained from falls. These are usually hip fractures or brain injuries.
• The vast majority, upwards of 95 percent, of all hip fractures are caused by falls.
• Around 250,000 elderly adults are hospitalized for hip fractures each year.
• The majority of traumatic brain injuries are caused by falls.
• Common injuries from falls including broken ankles, wrists, arms, and hips.
• Seniors who are on blood thinners are at particular risk when it comes to a fall due to the possibility of excessive bleeding even after a relatively minor injury.

Injuries that result from falls are very likely to diminish your parent's quality of life. They reduce the amount of activity that your parent can do and the activities of daily living that she can handle on her own. This not only has a physical impact on her wellbeing, but an emotional and mental health impact as well.

The first step in protecting your loved one from the serious injuries associated with a fall is understanding what could put her at greater risk of experiencing such a fall.

Some issues that increase the chances that your elderly parent will experience a fall include:

• Weakness or limited range of motion in the lower body
• Low vision or conditions that impact vision such as glaucoma or macular degeneration
• Ill-fitting or uncomfortable footwear
• Foot pain
• Not enough vitamin D
• Mobility issues that make walking or taking large enough steps difficult
• Medications that have side effects such as dizziness, sleepiness, confusion, or sedatives
• Dementia
• An uneven gait
• Balance problems
• Frequent dizziness or fainting spells
• Arthritis or stiffness in the joints
• Lack of proper handrails along steps
• Lack of proper grab bars in the bathroom
• Throw rugs
• Clutter
• Tightly arranged furniture
• Carpeted steps

If your elderly loved one falls, even if it seems minor, and hits her head, it is important that she receives medical attention promptly. Brain injuries can occur even in a minor fall and the person may seem fine but actually be suffering serious consequences that manifest later.

If you have an aging loved one in need of senior care contact Interim HealthCare today.