While we all know that elderly falls are an all too common occurrence, the actual reasons why they happen often elude us. There are, in fact, logical reasons as to why we’re more susceptible to falling as we move into our later years.
This is good news. If we can find reasons as to why this happens, it means we can also find solutions or, at the very least, reduce the risk of fallings occurring. It also means that, if they do occur, we can find ways to ensure that we reduce the harm caused as much as is possible.
Why Do The Elderly Fall So Much?
Reason 1: As We Get Older, Our Vision Becomes Weaker
This might seem a somewhat odd choice to begin with. After all, what does our sight have to do with our ability to stand on our own two feet?
The reason here is actually very simple. If our depth perception – that is, our ability to sense how far away objects or our surroundings are – has weakened, then a miscalculation can easily cause someone to fall and injure themselves.
Imagine you are going to steady yourself on something only to reach forward and find nothing but air. It would take some very quick reflexes or sheer good luck in that situation not to find ourselves in a falling incident. Another example is when you are walking and there is a dip or some kind of change on the ground. A reduction in depth perception means you are less able to see or notice it. Therefore, the chances of it affecting your balance are far greater.
Reason 2: A General Weakening of the Body
Possibly the most obvious answer to why do the elderly fall is the fact that our bodies simply get weaker with time. It’s normal to lose some strength in our later years. However, this is often exacerbated by a more sedentary lifestyle. After all, if you spend a large amount of your life running around at work, you’ll naturally find that your ability to keep up that pace slowly dwindles as you age.
This fact shows that, although we may never get back to our physical conditions of being a young adult, exercise or lack thereof does have a significant impact on our strength and general fitness. If you are stronger, particularly in your legs and hips, you’ll find that steadying yourself and moving around in general becomes much easier. In contrast, without that strength, it becomes much harder, meaning that the possibility for a fall happening is much more likely.
Reason 3: Slower Reaction Times
This simply means that the time in which it takes you to respond to something is longer in older age than when you were younger. For example, if someone throws a ball at a 25-year-old, their ability to notice this and respond accordingly will almost certainly be greater than the ability of someone several decades older. It’s just something that comes with getting older.
In terms of preventing accidents, it can also be a cause for concern. If you fall, then your reaction is going to have a big impact on how much damage the fall does. The difference between someone who does and does not manage to use their arms to burden some of the impact for example can be significant for their health and potential recovery time.
Reason 4: Medication and Our General Health
While medication is a vitally important part of our health and happiness, its side effects shouldn’t go unnoticed. If, for example, a medication is known to make a person dizzy, then the effects this can have on the chances of having a fall would obviously be significant.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should change anything with regards to medication, but this fact should be taken into account and, if necessary, changes to the environment be made in order to aid with any side effects. Conversely, an untreated condition could also be having similar effects, alongside other serious potential consequences.
Why a Fall’s Effects Are More Significant in Old Age
An elderly fall is often more significant due to our bodies not only weakening as we get older, but also because the recovery time can be quite a bit longer. This means that the impact of a fall, which might seem relatively minor for a young person, can have a long and devastating effect. That’s why it’s important to prevent falls whenever and wherever possible.
How To Help With Elderly Falls?
If we’re talking about what to do after an incident, then the advice is simple: get immediate medical assistance.
However, in terms of preventative measures, it’s important to make sure that everything that can be done is being done, as well as ensuring that a person’s health is at the best it can be. For a loved one, that might mean paying attention to their physical condition and making sure they go to the doctors when needed. You should also check they are keeping on top of their medication, alongside any change in eyesight issues.
At Melrose Care Home, ensuring we understand any and all medical issues and how to deal with any incidents accordingly is among our top priorities.
Another way to help is by encouraging or participating in regular exercise, including those which improve a person’s balance. Exercise for the elderly is a wonderful way to not only improve the likelihood of old people falling but is also a potentially great way of socialising.
In our activities, we make sure to include several varieties of exercise sessions to ensure our residents have plenty of opportunities to enjoy these benefits. Exercise can also improve possible weight issues, which will also play a part in increasing the chance of an elderly person having a fall.
Falling can have serious consequences no matter our age, but it’s not something you simply have to accept as a fact of getting older. These are just some of the steps you can take to prevent and reduce the harm of the impact of falls.