The biggest risk faced by senior citizens is that of "physical falling". These often happen accidentally, and all of a sudden. The statistics are frightening, as it is reported that more than one in every four people experiences falling and getting injuries over the age of 65 each year, but many of these go unreported.
While few elderly people will have minor injuries like pain or bruises or scratches, many will have serious injuries like hematoma (blood clotting) or fractures in parts of the body, including the hip, wrist, humerus, pelvis, face, or may even result in traumatic brain injuries (TMIs).
Sometimes, there can be multiple fractures and the patient may have to undergo multiple surgeries and bed rest for months. As a consequence, life slows down substantially without proper hospitalisation, medication, and caregiving. For those, who cannot afford professional caregiving because of financial resources, life often comes to a standstill.
The major factor is that when a person faces physiological problems, falling may prove to be disastrous and the patient can go into a shell. The most difficult part is that after a serious injury, it becomes extremely difficult for an elderly person to come to terms with it or regain old confidence.
One of the main reasons is that even for minor effects, the elderly might need medical care, including hospitalisation.
Another important factor is the psychological aspect, as many of them get to hear about the injuries of their friends and family, which forces them to change their lifestyle totally, including scanty exercises and little or no movement outside the rooms of their stay or comfort zone.
These "deliberate acts of slowing down" sometimes have an adverse impact in terms of making them totally risk-averse and more dependent on others (care givers).
This takes away the natural beauty and joys of happy ageing. They continue to live in a "world of fear of falling". The elderly must be aware of the risks and disastrous consequences and try to take all possible steps to ensure that such accidents are minimised.
Causes of Fall:
While some falls may be totally accidental, there are certain reasons why most of them occur. Some of the reasons could be:
Darkness is one of the major causes. Since the eyes of many seniors may not be strong, they do not see things properly kept in a room where light is dim.
Tripping is the other cause. It often happens because of a slippery floor, things kept in a disorganised manner, or wearing worn-out slippers, among other similar reasons. Tripping also happens suddenly when the person loses concentration for a fraction of a second.
Getting up from bed in a hurry or rushing to pick up a ringing telephone can also sometimes cause falls in older people. As physical strength may not be adequate at an advanced age, any sudden physical movement might cause a fall.
Certain medical conditions are found to have a direct relationship with falling. Postural hypertension (an increase in blood pressure while shifting posture), hypoglycemia (reduced blood sugar), sudden drop in blood pressure (hypotension), medical conditions like vertigo or balance problems, or the onset of mental impairment diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s may cause a fall. As we grow older, our reaction time to face an obstacle or hindrance comes down drastically, and this is one more reason for falls in the elderly.
Strategies to Prevent Falls:
Keeping oneself physically and mentally fit and agile allows us to be strong enough to fight physical and mental weakness and avoid falling at a minor roadblock.
Keeping the living room clean, organised, and dry This will help an elderly person not face any obstacles or feel slippery while moving inside a room.
At least one light should be kept on during the night as well. This will help the elderly see things properly while getting up at night. This is important as many elderly people suffer from nocturia (frequent urination at night).
The elderly must not attempt to climb on stools or chairs to keep or remove something. At the same time, they should not try to cross any road in a hurry and wait for their turn.
Elders should try to slow down their speed while getting up from bed, walking on the road, or doing any exercise so that unnecessary stress or pressure is reduced.
At the slightest onset of any physical discomfort like giddiness, etc., all precautions need to be taken, including taking rest and seeing a medical practitioner.
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