6 Things That Cause the Elderly to Fall

By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com contributing editor

Falls are the leading cause of death, injury and hospital admissions among the elderly population. In fact, one out of every three seniors falls every year.

Several factors contribute to the fact that seniors fall so much more frequently than younger people:

1. Lack of physical activity. Failure to exercise regularly results in poor muscle tone, decreased bone mass, loss of balance, and reduced flexibility.

2. Impaired vision. This includes age-related vision diseases, as well as not wearing glasses that have been prescribed.

3. Medications. Sedatives, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs, plus taking multiple medications are all implicated in increasing risk of falling.

(Is it dangerous for mom to take 12 different medications a day?)

4. Diseases. Health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis cause weakness in the extremities, poor grip strength, balance disorders and cognitive impairment.

Related:
Preventing Falls, Fractures and Broken Bones in Elders
4 At-Home Balance-Enhancing Exercises for Seniors

6 Things That Cause the Elderly to Fall originally appeared on AgingCare.com

5. Surgeries. Hip replacements and other surgeries leave an elderly person weak, in pain and discomfort and less mobile than they were before the surgery.

6. Environmental hazards. One third of all falls in the elderly population involve hazards at home. Factors include: poor lighting, loose carpets and lack of safety equipment.

However, falls are not an inevitable part of growing older. Many falls can be prevented, by making the home safer and using products that help keep seniors more stable and less likely to fall.

Caregivers can do several things to make the home safer for their senior mom or dad.

  • Install safety bars, grab bars or handrails in the shower or bath.
  • Put no-stick tape on the floor in the tub.
  • Use a stool riser seat to make getting on and off the toilet easier.
  • Install at least one stairway handrail that extends beyond the first and last steps.
  • Make sure stairs are sturdy with strong hand railings.
  • Be sure that stairwells are well-lit. Consider making the lighting in your home brighter to aid vision.
  • Make sure rugs, including those on stairs, are tacked to the floor.
  • Remove loose throw rugs.
  • Avoid clutter. Remove any furniture that is not needed. All remaining furniture should be stable and without sharp corners, to minimize the effects of a fall.
  • Change the location of furniture, so that your elderly parent can hold on to something as they move around the house.
  • Do not have electrical cords trailing across the floor. Have additional base plugs installed so long cords are not necessary.
  • Have your parent wear non-slip shoes or slippers, rather than walking around in stocking feet.
  • Make sure all rooms have adequate lighting. Consider motion-sensitive lights that come on when a person enters a room. Use night lights in every room.
  • Keep frequently used items in easy-to-reach cabinets.
  • Use a grasping tool to get at out-of-reach items, rather than a chair or stepladder.
  • Keep the water heater thermostat set at 120 degrees F, or lower, to avoid scalding and burns.
  • Wipe up spills and remove broken glass immediately.

Related:
What to Expect After a Hip Replacement
How to Prevent Seniors from Falling

6 Things That Cause the Elderly to Fall originally appeared on AgingCare.com

Here are some products that caregivers can use to keep their elderly loved ones from falling.

Monitors/sensor pads. Sensors work well for the bed, chair, or toilet. The pads electronically detect the absence of pressure, which in turn sends an electronic signal to the monitor setting off an alarm. Used on a bed, the pressure pads can be under or on top of the mattress. They are very thin, so they do not disturb sleeping and are plugged into the monitor via a telephone type line. Chair and toilet sensors work in the same way.

There are also pad/monitors that detect and sound an alarm if a person steps on the pad (detects pressure). This type of pad can be used beside the bed, in a hallway or in front of a chair while the person is seated.

Fall mats. Fall mats are used in areas where a person could be injured from a fall on a hard floor such as the side of a bed, by a toilet or in front of a chair. They are cushioned floor mats of various sizes 1-inch or 2-inches thick with beveled edges. They cushion the fall and prevent injuries.

Grab bars. Install them near the toilet, in the bathtub and shower. (Grab Bar Safety Tips)

Shower chair or transfer bench. When getting in and out of the tub, transfer benches provide stability and help the caregiver get the elderly in and out of the tub safely, without injuring the elderly person or the caregiver.

Anti-slip mats. Install these on the bath tub or shower floor. The hard rubber material prevents the elderly person from slipping and provides stability.

Canes and walkers. They help seniors feel steady on their feet. Make sure the mobility device you choose is the correct height for your elderly parent, and has rubber tip or other traction on the bottom, for safety.

Socks, shoes and slippers. Wearing properly fitted, low-heeled, non-slip footwear for walking and transferring provides traction and is much safer than going barefoot. Many socks and shoes are available with non-skid treads on the bottom, to keep your elderly parents safe and help reduce slipping accidents. Avoid slippers that can easily slip on and off.

Lift slings. Lift slings are used to move an elderly person who is unable to move themselves from bed to a wheelchair or chair. There are 3 common reasons that caregivers may need a lift: if the elderly parent is too heavy to be transferred without assistance; to prevent injury to the caregiver; and to prevent the elderly person from injury or falling.

Related:
Hip Replacement: How to Prepare and What to Expect
For the Elderly, Falls May Prove Deadly

6 Things That Cause the Elderly to Fall originally appeared on AgingCare.com

39 comments

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener5 years ago

Good article.

Magdalena K.
Past Member 5 years ago

thanks

KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B.5 years ago

Noted with thanks.

J M A.
JM A.5 years ago

I'VE CARED FOR AN 88 YEAR OLD FOR TWO YEARS NOW. HER FAMILY WANTS HER TO EXERCISE MORE, BUT HER DIZZINESS FROM INCONTINENCE, ARTHRITIS & ENDEMA & HER CELL DEGENERATION & OVER ALL EXHAUSTION FROM LIVING MAKES HER VERY WEAK. I THINK WE NEED TO ACCESS THE INDIVIDUAL BEFORE WE MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS. WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT AND AGE DIFFERENTLY. GOOD ARTICLE THOUGH. THXS!

Walter G.
Walter G.5 years ago

As an aged person, I think the article failed to name the most prevalent cause of falling . . . Gravity!

Regina P.
Regina P.5 years ago

Thank you for the article. Need to think twice at what can happen to the elderly

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W.5 years ago

thank you

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T.5 years ago

Take things slowly....good article, thank you..

Anne F.
Anne F.5 years ago

Encourage mobility -
a bird feeder outside the window across the room, a flower garden, a visit from a young friend or gandchild (who wants to go see something).
Provide cart so elder can move the laundry, recycling, library books, mail in and out.

Lin Moy
Lin M5 years ago

good read