Falls in Older Adults
Falls are among the main health problems encountered by older adults. According to statistics, 25% percent of the elderly suffer from falls, yet only a small percentage of people tell their doctors about it (Sherrington et al., 2017). The neglect of falls can negatively impact the well-being of older adults and reduce their lifetime. Falls can cause older adults to experience injuries such as hip fracture and brain injury, which in turn contribute to higher mortality. Thus, falls are among the main causes of serious injuries in older adults.
Fall Risk Factors
Falls can occur as a result of many factors, and therefore each of them has to be studied carefully. Age plays the main role in the risk of falls since the older people get, the more prone they become to falls. Additionally, people with mobility problems are also at a higher risk of falling and injuring themselves (Guirguis-Blake et al., 2018). A cluttered environment and the use of medication potentially negatively impacting one’s physical abilities can become considerable risk factors. Finally, social isolation involving older people living alone remains a significant risk factor.
There are many effective physical exercise programs targeted at fall prevention in older adults. A Matter of Balance is an approach involving eight sessions which helps to reduce the fear of falling and promote physical activity among participants (Sherrington et al., 2017). Otago Exercise Program is another fall prevention intervention which implies assisting older adults with muscle strengthening and teaching balance exercises. Stepping On is also an effective solution for fall prevention, focusing on improving balance and strength (Tricco et al., 2017). All of the aforementioned interventions have shown a reduction in the rate of falls.
The environment is an extremely important factor which needs to be taken into account during fall prevention. All safety hazards inside older adults’ houses must be addressed to ensure seamless mobility for them. Any clutter making it difficult to walk around the house should be removed to free space (Guirguis-Blake et al., 2018). Slippery spots and places raising safety hazards should be protected with rugs and other materials which can prevent or at least soften possible falls. When moving around the house at night, older adults should use nightlight to avoid falling in the dark.
There are also medical strategies which have been proven to make a positive impact on fall prevention. Older adults need to take medication if they experience pain and check their blood pressure to avoid dizziness and other symptoms increasing the risk of falls. All medications taken by older adults have to be reviewed by doctors to analyze all of the side effects contributing to possible falls. Older adults need to utilize mobility assistive devices to reduce the risk of falls (Guirguis-Blake et al., 2018). Finally, when a fall occurs, an emergency response system should be in place to call an ambulance.
Guirguis-Blake, J., Michael, Y., Perdue, K., Coppola, E., & Beil, T. (2018). Interventions to prevent falls in older adults. JAMA, 319(16), 1–12.
Sherrington, C., Michaleff, Z., Fairhall, N., Paul, S., Tiedemann, A., Whitney, J., Cumming, R., Herbert, R., Close, J., &, Lord, S. (2017). Exercise to prevent falls in older adults: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51(24), 1–10.
Tricco, A., Thomas, S., Veroniki, A., Hamid, J., Cogo, E., Strifler, L., Khan, P., Robson, R., Sibley, K., MacDonald, H., Riva, J., Thavorn, K., Wilson, C., Holroyd-Leduc, J., Kerr, G., Feldman, F., Majumdar, S., Jaglal, S., Hui, W., &, Straus, S. (2017). Comparisons of interventions for preventing falls in older adults. JAMA, 318(17), 1687–1699.