Falls can often cause moderate to severe injuries and mobility issues to seniors and older adults. According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of three people 65 and older suffers a fall in the United States. Up to 30 percent of those suffer injuries such as “lacerations, hip fractures, or head traumas.” As a result, fall-inflicted injuries often make it difficult to live independently, while increasing the risk of early death.
Causes of Falls
Many different factors can cause a fall. Perhaps you’re standing in a slippery shower or bathtub, while other falls can occur from the inability to effectively see an obstacle in a walking path. According research conducted by the UCLA GERONet on Health and Aging, falls generally occur from one of the following ways:
- Weak legs and unstable walking
- Balance problems
- Poor vision
- Memory problems
- Certain types of medications
- A sudden decrease in blood pressure while standing
Effects of Falls
Falling can cause a number of mobility issues in older adults, especially if hospitalization occurs as a result of a fall. A nasty fall can do anything from weaken joints to fracture bones, making it even more difficult to walk than before the fall occurred. If bones or joints don’t heal fully, older adults may experience pain or hindered functioning of their feet, ankles, calves, legs, or hips.
Other mobility issues can lead to seniors requiring canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to get around. This requires new methods of mobility learning that can be rather stressful and take an emotional toll on older adults. For these reasons, it is important to know how you can prevent falls so that mobility problems are minimized as you become older.
The CDC recommends that regular exercise to increase leg strength and balance is essential in preventing the incidence of falling. A healthy diet void of alcohol, coupled with regular eye exams is another good way to ensure poor vision does not hinder your independence.
Certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs may be available, and the CDC recommends conversations with your doctor to discuss medications you may be taking that cause drowsiness or dizziness. Finally, by making the home safer for seniors by removing tripping obstacles and falling hazards, installing additional hand rails and banisters, and improving lighting, the statistical odds of a fall is greatly reduced.
By taking these tips into account, seniors and older adults may increase their odds of a long life of independent living in comfort. Nevertheless, if you are a senior who has been a victim of a fall or are afraid of falling, it is important to reach out and inform your family and doctor so that future mobility issues are minimized.