Fall Prevention for the Elderly: Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention

Jia Hui

Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can.

Jia Hui

Jia Hui is a content marketer who loves helping others and hopes to make this world a kinder place in any way she can.

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Age-related condition increases the likelihood of falling rise with time, thus making it important for us to understand what to do if a senior loved one does fall as well as how to keep them from falling in years to come.

Statistics on Falling among the Elderly

Nearly one-third of seniors aged 60 and over in Singapore have experienced falling no less than once in their entire lives, and falls are the most common cause of injury in this age group. Falls occur and may appear to be an innocent error, but they can be signs of deteriorating function and bad health. Also, falls must be avoided, particularly in older adults, since they can have a variety of negative health and even psychological effects.

What Causes Senior Citizens to Fall?

Even the smallest of falls can have major bodily repercussions, including fractures of the arm, hip, and also the spine. If the head was affected, they could also end up with severe head injuries sustained. To make sure they don’t have brain damage or any other serious injury, the person should be transported to the hospital as soon as this occurs.

Seniors who already have osteoporosis, a bone disease that makes bones weak or breakable, are particularly at risk from falls. For those who have osteoporosis, extra safety precautions should be taken to prevent future falls.

Falls Typically Occur Where?

Elderly folks don’t experience falls by chance, and despite what might seem illogical, most falls occur on level surfaces. Falls frequently happen at home or even in nursing homes, elderly studio apartments, or senior day care facilities. It is crucial to look out for flat surfaces even if they don’t appear to provide a risk of falling. In 2010, 13% of Singaporeans aged 65 and above had falls occur in the home highlighting the need for fall-proofing your home or community environment.

Causes and Risk Factors of Elderly Falls

Problems with Hearing or Eyesight

The majority of us face age-related ocular decline as a result of ailments including glaucoma as we get older. These typical physical changes, even with disease control, nevertheless, can increase our risk of falling. It may be challenging to navigate uneven terrain and identify possible risks for those who suffer from common eye diseases like cataracts and glaucoma. 

Foot Problems 

Seniors with foot injuries, illnesses including diabetic neuropathy, nerve damage brought on by high blood sugar that often affects our legs and feet, sesamoiditis or inflamed tendons, and connective tissue problems may also be more prone to falling. Foot discomfort and the potential fall hazards can both be increased by wearing the wrong shoes.

Environmental Safety Hazards

The environment that elders reside in can also be a risk factor for falls; examples of such dangers include damaged staircases, ill-lit rooms, damp flooring, and obstructions like furniture and debris. It’s crucial to make the required changes to your space and make your loved ones’ surroundings age-friendly to avoid falls from happening.

Inadequate Exercise

Elderly people who don’t exercise might have weak muscles and lose their equilibrium. For elders to develop physical strength and balance, frequent exercise is essential. Also, our muscles are more likely to degenerate over time and get weaker the longer you stay inactive, which might potentially make your joints hurt. To get moving and remain energetic, be sure to include physical exercise in your routine.

Adverse Drug Reactions

Due to their adverse effects, medications for depressive disorders, elevated blood pressure, and sleep issues can potentially cause falls. Feeling faint, dizziness and a lack of balance are some typical adverse effects of these drugs. Also, you may get unsteady on your feet as a result of taking certain diabetic and heart medications, which might lead you to lose your balance and fall.

What Should You Do If Your Elderly Falls?

When an elderly relative falls, the first and perhaps most important thing to do is to remain cool and not worry. Then, evaluate the situation and examine for any injuries, especially to the head area, before asking the patient if they are hurt and where it is hurting.

Only in the event, that there are no indications of shattered bones or other significant injuries you could assist them in slowly getting off the ground if they want to get up. Support your seniors by guaranteeing that they have sturdy furniture or assistive equipment that they can grab onto. Stop if your senior becomes too fatigued, trapped, or in pain to continue climbing at any stage. Avoid needless activities and dial 911 straight away if you are unclear of what’s the next step or how to assist an older person in getting up from the floor.

Fall Prevention: 10 Tips & Programs on How Can We Prevent Falls in the Elderly?

1. Continue to Move and Exercise

Physical activity regularly can help avoid falls, and light exercises and activities including walking, along with simple strength and balance drills, can greatly lower your risk of falling by enhancing your coordination, flexibility, stamina, and balance. If you are unsure of what activities are ideal for your senior family members, you may speak with a doctor who can provide advice based on your senior’s care requirements.

2. Maintain Bone Health

Essentially, the bones are more prone to breaking if they are weak, and you may build your bones and maintain them healthy by boosting your regular calcium consumption and taking vitamins. Since vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, it is also necessary for strong bones. Additionally, cod liver oil vitamins, which can enhance overall bone health and lessen joint pain, can be added to your diet as a dietary supplement.

3. Attend Routine Eye Exams

Adults between the ages of 18 and 60 are encouraged to have routine eye exams every two years to retain healthy eyesight as they age. Elderly people should have annual exams at least if they are 61 years or older. By doing this, your doctor can determine whether your prescription needs to be updated or whether you have any eye disorders that might damage your vision and raise your risk of falling.

4. Practice Getting up Slowly

Most people commonly feel a sensation known as a head rush upon getting out of a sitting or laying posture. Make it a practice to rise slowly from your previous posture and take a moment before moving to prevent future falls or lose balance. Also, you can get assistance when moving far further distances by using walking aids such as canes and walkers.

5. Keep an Eye on Your Medications

Antidepressants and hypnosedative medications, for example, might impair stability and coordination and can make you feel drowsy and dizzy, which increases your risk of falling. If you take a lot of medications, you almost always become more prone to falling. Do speak with your doctor about your current medications and consult if you can be prescribed substitute ones instead to help prevent falls.

6. Put On Appropriate Non-slip Shoes

Elderly fall risk is significantly increased by heeled, and loose-fitting footwear; nevertheless, this issue is easily remedied. The National Institute on Aging advises wearing non-skid, low heels, and rubber-soled shoes. Also, you have more traction with this footwear, which might help you avoid slipping and falling.

7. Brighten Up Your Living Area

Low illumination can cause inadequate visibility, which can heighten the likelihood of falling owing to hidden hazards or decreased bodily stability during regular activities. In light of that, if you share a home with an older person, make sure it is well-lit.

8. Eliminate Extra Furniture

By getting rid of extra furniture that might create environmental risks for elderly people moving about their homes, you can make your area more open. Simple home improvements to your space include avoiding leaving cables and unsecured cords on the floor, wiping up spills quickly to allow the area to dry, and placing non-slip mats on the bathroom flooring to prevent sliding.

9. Install Auxiliary Aids

Utilizing assistive technology is strongly advised if you are living with an elderly person, which is another home modification to consider. Also, you can think about putting grab bars in various bathroom locations, handrails, and higher toilet seats. The elderly might still feel autonomous and easily carry out their everyday tasks as a result.

10. Consult a Falls Expert

Some clinics focus on preventing falls among the elderly, something that many people might not be aware of. The elderly person’s blood pressure, eyesight, and memory will next be evaluated during a quick check-up with a nurse. The nurse will next go over past experiences of falls, if any at all, and instruct you on fall prevention measures.

What Should I Do Right Away After a Fall?

It is indeed common to feel panicked and confused after learning that a loved one has recently fallen and needs help. Do not, above all circumstances, panic. Maintaining your composure can let you support your loved one more effectively. In certain situations, it might be difficult to tell if medical assistance is necessary right away after a fall since it could look like a minor injury.

Outlined below are some recommendations and actions to take after a recent fall by an elderly loved one:

  1. Asking your elderly relative to breathe deeply and slowly will help them to relax and maintain their composure. Remind yourself to relax by practising deep breathing or allowing yourself time to process the issue.
  2. Check them over for any obvious wounds like bruises, blood, broken bones, suspected sprains, or fractures from the accident. It will assist in determining the severity of the injury and whether or not urgent medical attention is necessary.
  3. If they are awake, inquire about any pain they may be feeling, where it is, and how intense it is.
  4. Please refrain from attempting to move a loved one who is in severe pain. As you wait for further steps to undertake, immediately notify the ambulance.
  5. If there is bleeding, you can attempt to stop it by gently pressing on the area with a clean cloth before bandaging the wound.

Preventing Future Falls: Fall-Proofing Your Home

Even though your senior may be okay this time, falls can have major repercussions including disability, suffering, loss of autonomy, and even early death. To prevent more falls, there are several elements and concerns to consider. These aspects and issues might be related to your loved one’s lifestyle, health, or the environment in which they reside.

Flooring. Falls are more likely to occur on some flooring types because they are uneven and have slippery surfaces. Rugs and carpets that aren’t fastened might also make it simpler for someone to slip and fall. The floor is typically slick in the bathroom. On occasion, items left lying on the floor around the house might lead to tripping.

Cluttered Wires and Cords. Cords and wiring around the house might be a safety threat. They are less noticeable since they are placed on the floor. As a result, there may be a risk of falling.

Insufficient lighting. Poor vision caused by low light might cause someone to stumble.

Interior House Design. Some houses have two stories and steps that might not be well planned. Additionally, furniture that is too high or low can make it uncomfortable to bend over and increase the risk of falling and tripping over.

Health-Related Factors. Make an appointment for your elderly relative to be examined by a doctor. Falls can occasionally be a sign of potential medical problems that may need care. Also, a thorough and intensive assessment may reveal any problems with your loved one that may have increased the risk of a fall.

Check out this government guide on fall prevention if you’re seeking further suggestions on how to look out for your elderly loved ones.

Fall Assessment

For further precaution, you may schedule an in-person care evaluation for your elderly loved one at one of the best senior group homes with Retire Genie, and our esteemed care specialists will assist to inspect your house to make sure that it is nothing but safe and secured. As of today, give your ageing loved one the premier elder care services Singapore has to offer.

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