Senior Fall Causes & Prevention

LovingHomeCareServices_FallCausesPreventionSeniors

Did You Know?

Did you know that around 33% or roughly 1 in 3 seniors in North America fall at least once per week?

Did you know falls are the most common cause of injury and the 6th leading cause of death for seniors?

Did you know Canadians spend about $3 billion a year on seniors’ fall injuries?

Did you know women are 3 times more likely than men to be hospitalized for a fall?

Did you know 40% of falls that require hospitalization involve hip fractures?

Did you know almost half of the admissions to long-term care facilities are fall-related and half of the people who have a hip fracture never regain their pre-fall level of functioning?

Did you know seniors may develop a “fear of falling”; causing them to restrict their activities which can increase their risk of falling due to weak muscles, stiff joints, and poor balance?

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What Contributes To Senior Falls?

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Over 2 million seniors visit the emergency room annually because of senior falls resulting in injuries causing brain trauma, bone, and hip fractures, or even death for a senior. By providing education and tips on how you can better prepare should a senior family member experience senior falls, you will be better informed on what to do next. The first step to avoiding a fall is to understand what causes senior falls. The second step is to take action to prevent the fall.

We know seniors are more prone to falls and ultimately become afraid of falling possibly causing phobia and other severe physiological effects. These physiological effects may limit a seniors quality of life and stop them from exercising properly, going for walks or just to get up and move about the home.

As a result of reduced physical activity, the health of a senior may be compromised and may increase the risk of having other sedentary related diseases such as loneliness and depression or other more complex health care issues. In any case, it is vital to educate and learn about preventative measures to assist senior falls in your family.

The first truth is, there is no single reason why seniors fall. A fall usually occurs when several events happen at the same time, often called risk factors. The more risk factors one has, the greater your chances of falling. Most people believe that senior falsl is a normal part of aging and no matter what they do, senior falls can’t be prevented or that it won’t happen to them.

The second truth is: Senior falls are NOT a normal part of aging and there are many things you can do to prevent falls.

Physical Risks

  • Chronic illnesses or conditions, such as the effects of a stroke, Parkinson’s disease, arthritis, heart disease, incontinence.
  • Taking multiple medications, particularly those that are known to increase the risk of falling. Examples are inappropriate use of antidepressants, tranquilizers, and anti-hypertensives.
  • Acute illnesses like infections or unstable chronic diseases (ie; diabetes, heart failure).
  • Age-related sensory changes, such as poor eyesight or hearing, reduced sense of touch and ability to know the position or movement of a body part without looking.
  • Changes in mental alertness due to cognitive impairments, depression, delirium, side effect of medications, consumption of alcohol, poor nutrition, dehydration or lack of sleep.
  • Mobility problems, including slower reflexes, muscle weakness, impaired balance and poor gait that includes swaying side to side when moving.

Indoor Risks

  • Poorly lit stairs, ramps or doorways.
  • Stairs that are not uniform from top to bottom or those with narrow steps.
  • Stairs without handrails or marking on the edges of the steps.
  • Lack of, or incorrectly installed, grab bars in bathrooms.
  • Slippery floors, throw rugs, loose carpets.
  • Walking surfaces cluttered with objects like cords, pet dishes or newspapers.
  • Toilet seats that are too low or too high.
  • Poorly maintained or improper use of mobility aids and equipment.
  • Doors with raised sills.

Outdoor Risks

  • Uneven or cracked sidewalks.
  • Stairs without handrails.
  • Stairs without clear edge markings on all steps.
  • Poor lighting: either not enough or too much glare.
  • Snow, ice, wet leaves on stairs or walkways.
  • Unmarked curb edges or corners without curb ramps.
  • Long crosswalks without pedestrian islands.
  • Objects on sidewalks or walkways such as bike racks or garbage cans.
  • Controlled crosswalks with times too short for a safe walking pace.

Risky Behaviours

  • Wearing loose fitting or worn out shoes, or shoes with thick soles.
  • Taking medications without a regular review for fall risk by a physician, pharmacist.
  • Consuming alcohol to the point of impaired judgment and/or balance.
  • Trying to get objects that are out of reach rather than asking for assistance.
  • Carrying heavy, awkward handbags that can affect balance.
  • Not using assistive devices (walkers, canes, etc.) when needed or using them incorrectly.

Social & Economic Risks

  • Living alone without a way to access help.
  • Lack of social networks that lead to isolation and depression.
  • Insufficient income for safe living quarters or nutritional food.
  • Lack of access or knowledge on how to acquire needed health care services or health promotion information.
  • Poor eating habits, with low protein or inadequate fluids.

What To Do After A Senior Falls

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If You CAN Get Up

Follow these five steps for getting up:

  • Stay calm and assess your situation.
  • Turn onto your side, bend the leg that is on top and lift yourself onto your elbows or hands.
  • Crawl on your hands and knees toward a chair or other sturdy piece of furniture, then kneel while placing both hands on the stairs or furniture.
  • Place your stronger leg in front, holding on to the furniture for support.
  • Stand up and, carefully, turn and sit down.

If You CANNOT Get Up

If you think you are injured, or you are feeling dizzy, do not try to get up.

Instead, try to get help and do the following:

  • Stay calm and assess your situation.
  • If you have an emergency call device or telephone at hand, use it.
  • If you don’t, call out for help if you think you can be heard or try to slide or crawl towards a telephone or a place where you will be heard.
  • Make noise with a cane or any object at hand to attract attention.
  • Wait for help in the most comfortable position for you.
  • If you can, use anything that is accessible to help you stay comfortable and warm.
  • Try to move your joints to ease circulation and prevent stiffness.

How To Decrease The Chance Senior Falls

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  • Maintain an active and healthy lifestyle through appropriate exercise, good nutrition, regular physical checkups, and eye and ear exams.
  • If you have difficulty with mobility outside the home, ask your physiotherapist for an in-home exercise program to fit your needs.
  • For those who are active outside of the home, exercises to promote balance, strength and endurance are best for reducing falls.
  • Avoid rushing or carrying too much.
  • Consult a physiotherapist on the appropriate use of mobility aids and safety devices, such as a cane with spiked ends or shoes with ice grips.
  • Wear footwear that provides good support, with soles that have non-slip treads and are not too thick.
  • Have your family doctor or pharmacist do a regular review of your medications.
  • Be socially active by joining a community group and getting together with friends or family.

Taking Preventative Measure

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It’s normal to be more cautious after a fall, but the fear of falling again may lead you to restrict your activities. This is a vicious circle: the less active you are, the more your strength and flexibility decrease, which increases your risk for falling. What’s more, if you isolate yourself because you feel vulnerable, the reduced social contacts may undermine your spirits.

Discussing your fear of falling with your family or with health professionals should help diminish your fear. A physiotherapist can also suggest various rehabilitation exercises that will help you.

Taking a fall brings your physical limitations to the surface and may jeopardize your independence. It’s a difficult experience to go through. Knowing the potential consequences of a fall and knowing what to do will set you on the path to a faster physical recovery and a return to enjoying life.

Why Choose Loving Home Care Services

Are you thinking of home and health care assistance or is someone you know? Life can be unpredictable and whether it’s an illness or some other significant event in any stage of life, you or a family member may be in need of professional home and health care services.

There are many reasons to choose Loving Home Care Services as your care provider;

  • We offer a wide spectrum of home and health care services ranging from part-time home support, personal care or companionship, to full-time around-the-clock care.
  • We are available 24/7/365 with compassionate and trusted Home Care Assistants and Certified Care-Aides so you or your family member will never feel alone or be without care.
  • We provide ongoing training and support for all staff and provide access to continuing education programs.
  • All staff is bonded, insured and thoroughly pre-screened and we assign a wonderful individual the first time 99% of the time.
  • We carry a $5 million professional liability policy, as well as business liability policy covering you and your family.
  • We carry affordable, competitive rates while compensating staff fairly and above industry average.
  • We take care of WCB, CPP, E.I, and all applicable payroll taxes. 
  • Read our astounding testimonials to learn more about our industry-recognized care.

Learn more about our trusted In-Home and Health Care Services, call us today at  604.926.8403

Take a closer look at our Level I, III and III Care Services for more.

Sources:
(1) http://www.injuryresearch.bc.ca/docs/3_20070425_160715Senior’s%20Falls%20Can%20Be%20Prevented%20Pamphlet%20April%2024_07.pdf
(2) https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/seniors/health-safety/disease-and-injury-care-and-prevention/fall-prevention/what-to-do-if-you-fall

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