Anti aging guide

Falls and Old Age



Why frequency of falls is a bad prognostic sign especially old age?
What are the dangers of falls and what to do if you suffer from falls?

Falls are unpleasant and dangerous and unfortunately become more common with increasing age. Throughout life, women are more unsteady than men. The situation worsens at the time of menopause—but the inequality between the genders begins to disappear in advanced old age. Those who are most frail and disabled are those at greatest risk. This is illustrated by the fact that falls in institutions are much more common than falls at home. The circumstances of falls also differ. At home, falls are most likely to occur in the living room or on the stairs. In hospitals and care homes they seem to happen most often when rising from a chair, bed, or toilet.

An increasing frequency of falls is a bad prognostic sign and indicates serious underlying health problems. Almost 50 per cent of frequent fallers who are suffering from another illness will be dead within a six-month period. Their deaths, however, will be due to the underlying illnesses rather than to any injury sustained during a fall. Nevertheless, falling itself is dangerous and up to 4000 pensioners in the UK die each year as a consequence of falling. Many more suffer pain and anxiety which further restricts their mobility as a consequence of falling.

The causes of falling are legion, but a clear description of the sequence of events will be of great help to the doctor when it comes to deciding on the reasons and the subsequent treatment. It is usually possible to categorize episodes into one of two types-trips and ‘turns’.

The dangers of falls

  • Injury—fracture and bruising.
  • Loss of confidence.
  • Complications of a long lie—hypothermia, pneumonia, pressure-sores.
  • Loss of independence—anxiety in both the victim and carers leading to institutional care.

What to do if you suffer from falls

  • Seek medical help, they may be preventable and controllable.
  • Make your environment as safe and convenient as possible.
  •  Reduce the risks of a long lie, for example:
  1. learn how to get up from the floor by rolling, crawling, and climbing up furniture—a physiotherapist will advise;
  2. keep warm and comfortable if unable to rise by keeping blankets and pillows in an accessible place, for instance on the floor;
  3. invest in an alarm system, preferably a body-worn personal alarm tuned into a warden system;
  4. encourage frequent callers so that you will soon be discovered if an accident occurs.

If you cannot be protected from your falls and you wish to continue living in your own home you owe it to yourself and to those who care about you to ensure that the risks to which you are exposed are kept to a minimum. Remember that a move to a care home will not abolish falls secondary to illness—but more and earlier help will be available to assist you after a fall.

Posted by Carol Hudgens - May 12, 2012 at 9:40 am