Falls are extremely dangerous for seniors. According to the National Council on Aging, falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
The long-term consequences of falls among older adults cannot be understated. Falls can cause pain, disability and permanently reduce a senior’s independence. Here are four of the long-term consequence of falls that you need to be aware of:
1. Falls reduce independence: Falls are the leading cause of seniors moving to long-term care facilities. Some remain in long-term care facilities permanently, unable to recover from the injuries suffered in the fall. Others are able to remain at home, but because they are scared of falling they go out less, move less and as a result become more isolated. That can lead to depression and anxiety. As they move less, they become less mobile and are less able to fully participate in activities of daily living like shopping, bathing and preparing meals.
2. One fall leads to multiple falls: More than ⅓ of persons 65 and over fall each year, and in half of these cases the falls occur again. If there is a history of previous falls, the risk doubles or triples as seniors lose their confidence and physical conditioning.
3. Falls lead to serious injury: Twenty to 30% of those who fall suffer moderate to severe physical injuries including breaks, cuts, and bruising. More than 800,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury – most often a broken hip or head injury and more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling. In fact, seniors are hospitalized five times more often for fall-related injuries than any other type.
4. Falls impact the family at large: When a senior falls and loses independence and/or mobility it impacts the family as well. Family members may have to take time off from work to support the senior and help them recover from a fall. Financial resources may need to be expanded for in – home care, rehabilitation devices like walkers and canes, and visiting nurses. In some cases, family members may need to take a leave of absence or quit their jobs altogether to become full-time caregivers for the senior.
The senior long term care facilities consequences of falls among adults are extensive and life-changing. That is why it is important to do everything possible to avoid falls in the first place. Help your loved one to avoid the risk factors for falls that can include the following:
Lower body weakness and difficulties with walking and balance
Vitamin D deficiency
Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants that can affect balance
Vision problems and bifocals that may make it difficult to judge distance and depth of field
Foot pain or poor footwear
Home fall hazards that include broken or uneven steps, throw rugs, clutter on the floor and poor lighting
You can help to reduce the long-term consequences of falls and keep your loved one safe by proactively addressing these issues. If your loved one has fallen, no need to feel guilty, supporting a senior after a fall can take practice, but the knowledge will empower you!