Astoundingly, falls account for 70 percent of accidental deaths in seniors over the age of 75. Even younger seniors are not immune. In fact, approximately 33 percent of seniors over the age of 65 will suffer a fall each year. Of the seniors who fall, many are severely injured and some even die as a direct result of the fall or from complications that arise after.
If you have an older parent or loved one who lives independently, you want to keep them safe and prevent falls. But first you have to know why seniors fall in the first place. Following are three reasons why falls are the leading cause of injury among seniors.
Loss of Balance and Flexibility
As people age, they lose muscle strength and become less flexible. They also get tired much quicker than they did when they were younger. All of these factors make falls more likely.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help your loved one maintain their strength. Encourage them to exercise regularly and follow an exercise program that increases leg strength. Exercise programs that improve balance, such as Tai Chi, are also ideal.
Certain Medications and Illnesses
Some medications and illnesses may make your loved one lightheaded, dizzy, or a bit unstable on their feet. Some medications even affect vision, making it more difficult for them to see.
To help your loved one stay clearheaded and steady on their feet, monitor them for signs of dizziness or drowsiness after they start new medications or during the days following a serious illness. You may also want to make their home safer by increasing lighting, installing a stair lift, adding grab bars, and including railings wherever necessary.
Seniors are More Prone to Injuries and Complications
While younger people don't fall as often as older people, they still fall. However, they are not as likely to be injured during a fall as their older counterparts. Why? Seniors have brittle bones, so they are more likely to sustain a broken spine, hip, pelvis, leg or hand than younger people. It is also more difficult for them to break their fall, which is why falls are the most common cause for traumatic brain injury in seniors.
To prevent injuries and falls, make sure your loved one gets plenty of nutrition and exercise and takes bone supplements and vitamins. You should also make sure they go to the doctor regularly for checkups. If you take steps to prevent falls or to make injury less likely if a fall does occur, you will be able to rest easier at night knowing your loved one is capable of living independently. For more information about preventing falls and the injuries related to them, consider talking to a doctor from Corner Medical.