More than 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 experience a fall each year. Unfortunately, in older adults, a fall can lead to broken bones, a hospital stay and can be the start of more serious problems. Falls can be a serious threat to the quality of life of older adults. It can cause a decline in their ability to care for themselves. It can also negatively affect their mobility and/or confidence, which leads to a decline in physical and social activities, in turn leading to a decline in mental health.
Here we will discuss the risk factors and how to prevent falls in the elderly.
Risks factors for falls
There are many reasons why an elderly person may fall. Below are some common reasons:
- A decline in eyesight, hearing or reflexes
- Illnesses such as diabetes, heart problems, thyroid problems or nerve problems
- Problems in the ears
- Conditions that can affect your blood pressure
- Medicines that make you sleepy or dizzy
- Mobility problems
- Hazards in the home or in the community
How to prevent falls
As we age, muscle strength and balance decline which makes falls more likely. Keeping active helps maintain muscle strength and balance. Here are 5 easy tips to stay physically and mentally active in later life.
Eating well and maintaining good energy and nutrition is important to help maintain good health and therefore prevent falls. You can find more advice here about how to eat well as you age.
If a reduced appetite is making eating a balanced diet difficult here are 11 tips to encourage eating in elderly people with no appetite.
Drinking 6 to 8 glasses of fluids a day is essential to good health but staying hydrated will also help prevent falls. Dehydration can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, confusion and light-headedness which all increase the risk of falling. For more tips see spotting and managing dehydration in the elderly.
Regular eyesight and hearing check-ups
Vision problems can cause loss of coordination and balance, so eyesight should be checked regularly. Loss of hearing is often an expected age-related condition. But some ear conditions can severely affect balance, so seeing a doctor should be a priority if you notice any deterioration in hearing.
Being aware of medicines that are being taken and their potential side effects can help an elderly person take more care. For example, if a medication is known to cause drowsiness after taking it, ensure the person has everything they need close to hand to avoid the need for walking far while under the influence.
Excessive tiredness can increase the likelihood of a fall, so it’s important to ensure elderly people get enough sleep.
Beware of hazards around the home
- Rugs and mats can cause a fall. Make sure there aren’t any at the top of steps.
- Check for any trailing wires or cords that could cause a trip.
- Slippers, although comfortable, can sometimes cause us to trip over our own feet. Wear well fitting slippers that provide support and aid balance.
- Keep a light by the bed and don’t stumble around in the dark.
- Maintain a tidy home with everything in its place. Clutter increases the risk of falls.
If you or a loved one needs more support at home, especially following a fall that may have decreased your mobility or confidence, get in touch to see how we can help.