11 Facts You Need to Know About Seniors, Falls, and Injuries

The most common type of accident experienced by people of all ages is falling. This is particularly the case for people over the age of 65. Instances in which a senior falls can result in very serious and even debilitating injuries. Because of the serious nature of falls sustained by seniors, it is important for people in their Golden Years and their caregivers to have a general understanding of some basic facts associated with these types of accidents and associated injuries. This article provides you an overview of 11 facts you need to know about seniors, falls, and injuries.

Most Falls Are Results of Slips and Trips

Most falls involving seniors are not from heights. More than 67 percent of senior falls are the result of slipping or tripping. 

Weather is at the heart of most falls involving seniors.  Snow, ice, and rain render conditions out of doors dangerous for seniors, significantly enhancing the risk of falling and severe injury. 

In addition, disorganized spaces and clutter increase the risk of falls. Relatives and caretakers should keep an eye on these kinds of safety hazards. Keeping a home clutter-free is particularly important when an elderly person resides in or visits a residence. 

Broken Bones More Likely for a Senior Who Falls

Statistics regarding seniors who fall confirm that they are more likely to break a bone. In addition, when a senior breaks a bone, the likelihood that a person over 65 will be left with a disability increases significantly, according to the National Institutes of Health. The situation is significantly worse if a senior has osteoporosis. This is a condition that weakens a person’s bones. Even a minor fall is dangerous if a person has this disease.

Poorly Fitting Shoes and Clothing Contribute to Senior Falls

Another of the recurring and rather frequent reasons seniors fall is because of poorly fitting shoes and clothing. Poorly fitting shoes that are loose or don’t provide support can cause an older person to stumble and fall. Poorly fitting clothing can have the same effect. For example, poorly or loose-fitting clothing can snag on furniture and other items, causing a person to stumble and fall. 

Hearing Loss Raises the Risk of Senior Falls

Research reveals that hearing loss can significantly raise the risk of a person falling. This research indicates that hearing loss can result in a three times increased risk of an accidental fall. In addition, this risk of falling because of hearing loss increases by 140 percent for each additional ten decibels of hearing loss a person sustains.

Ear Disorders Affect Balance and Increase Risk of Falls

When it comes to the ears, different types of disorders can affect a person’s balance and, in turn, increase the risk of falling. For example, ear infections and stuffiness from colds can be the reason why a senior loses balance and falls. Ear balance issues can also impede a person’s ability to move normally.

Medical Conditions Increase Risk of Falling

There are a number of different types of medical conditions that can increase an older person’s odds of falling and suffering what oftentimes proves to be serious injuries. Examples of these medical conditions include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Anemia 

Sedatives and Antidepressants Can Increase the Risk of Falling

Certain sedatives and antidepressants are also shown to have the potential to increase a senior’s risk of falling and sustaining a subsequent injury. These include medications that address these types of medical issues:

  • Insomnia and nocturia
  • Sedation
  • Conduction disorders
  • Impaired postural reflexes
  • Increased reaction times
  • Movement disorders
  • Orthostatic hypotension

Anticonvulsant and Psychotropic Medications Can Raise the Risk of Falling and Injury

Anticonvulsant medications and psychotropics can result in low sodium levels. Low sodium levels can cause a lack of attention. In turn, this increases the likelihood of falls. Anxiety medications can also produce the same side effects. In addition, these medications can cause psychomotor dysfunctions, which raise the risk of falling as well. 

Seniors With “Belly Fat” Are More Likely to Fall

A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine discussed research that spanned to years and involved seniors 65-years-old and older. 3,400 people were involved in the study.

The research study concluded that individuals with central obesity or belly fat were 37 percent more likely to experience a fall than those people with low visceral fat. Scientists suggest that a higher center of gravity for obese individuals is a major factor for instability (the lower the center of gravity, the more stable something is as a matter of physics).

Physical Inactivity Increases Odds of Falling

The National Institutes of Health reports that research studies consistently reveal that insufficient physical activity makes an older individual more prone to falling. Multiple studies have pointed out that physical exercise ought to be a part of a multi-disciplinary strategy aimed at preventing falls and maximizing intervention benefits, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Living Alone can Result in a Fall-Related Long-Lie

The National Institutes of Health also advises that when a senior who lives alone falls, that person could end up experiencing what is known as a “long-lie.” What this means is that a significant amount of time might pass before a senior who has fallen and been injured is found. This long-lie experience can cause a person’s fall-related injuries to worsen. The person may end up disabled as a result, or even dead. 

The key takeaway from this article is to fully understand the importance of being proactive and preventing senior falls in the first instance. As has been discussed in this article, there are some tactics and strategies you can employ as a means of lowering the risk of a senior sustained a fall and associated injuries. 

If a senior sustains a fall but does not appear to have been injured, that person should still visit the doctor for an examination. The reality is that some injuries that can arise due to a fall may not be immediately evident to a layperson. These include traumatic brain injuries.