FALLS PREVENTION AT HOME : IMPORTANT FACTS AND RISK FACTORS
Important facts about falls according to WHO
- Falls are the second leading cause of accidental or unintentional injury deaths worldwide.
- Each year an estimated 646 000 die from falls globally of which over 80% are in low- and middle-income countries.
- Adults older than 65 years of age suffer the greatest number of fatal falls.
- 37.3 million Falls that are serious enough to require medical attention occur each year.
- Prevention should highlight education, training, creating safer environments, prioritizing fall-related research, and establishing effective policies to reduce risk.
Falls are very common in older people, and as a result, it is very harmful and puts them to high-risk of falling. The clinical evaluation and investigation of patients who present with falls can be challenging for non-specialists, and various guidelines have been published to aid this.
As in the article, the highlight is in the acute setting. Important topics covered the definition of falls, risk factors, and the effect of risk factors. Moreover, evidence-based strategies for prevention including the latest developments in falls prevention research have given attention as well.
A fall is defined as an event that results in a person coming to rest that is accidentally fell on the ground or floor. Fall-related injuries can be deadly or non-fatal though, most are non-fatal.
Who is at risk?
While all people who fall are at risk of injury, the age, gender, and health of the individual can affect the type and intensity of the injury.
Across all age groups and regions, both genders are at risk of falls. In some countries, it has been noted that males are more likely to die from a fall, while females suffer more non-fatal falls.
Personal Risk Factors
- The advanced age of 65+ older people has the highest risk of death or serious injury arising from a fall and the risk increases with age. This risk level may be in part due to physical, sensory, and cognitive changes related to aging.
- Another high-risk group is children. Childhood falls mainly happen as a result of their progress developmental stages, curiosity in their surroundings, and increasing levels of independence that match with more challenging behaviors commonly mention to us ‘risk-taking’.
- History of previous fall(s)
Acute Medical Conditions
- Low blood pressure/orthostatic hypotension
Chronic Medical Conditions
- Parkinson’s disease
- Meniere’s disease
- Poorly controlled diabetes or epilepsy
- Brain disorders
Chronic Medical Conditions
- Heart rhythm abnormalities
- Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias
- Balance and step (unsteady manner and style of walking)
- Musculoskeletal system
- Mental status
What Conditions Make You More Likely to fall?
Research has recognized many conditions that can cause falls and these are called risk factors. This risk can be changed or improve to help prevent falls. These include:
- Lower body weakness;
- Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system);
- Use of medicines and drugs;
- Vision problems;
- Home hazards such as
- broken or lumpy steps, and
- throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over.
Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors in short the more risk factors a person has, the greater chances of falling.
Why Do Falls Cause Death in the Elderly?
A study conducted by researchers at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control found that nearly half (48.7%) of fall-related deaths among people aged 65 and older involved a head injury. However, even with less serious fall-related injuries, such as broken bones, the flow of treatment is still complicated for the elderly. The hospitalization comes with risk in the elder population likewise, fractures often require surgical procedures that can possibly threaten an older person’s life.
Falls Have Long-Term Effects on seniors
After a traumatic fall and painful incident, even those older individuals who have made an important recovery tend to reduce their activity levels due to a fear of falling again. Sadly, this fear is upholding since one fall increases an elder’s chances of falling again. Many seniors are aware of how dangerous falls can be.
These fears can cause behavioral changes. Therefore, changes may result in social isolation that can contribute to depression and dementia.
What is CDC doing to prevent falls?
To help, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working to make fall prevention through its STEADI (Stopping Elderly Accidents Deaths & Injuries) initiative.
The main elements of STEADI are:
- Screen older patients for fall risk;
- assessing their fall risk factors;
- and in addition to cut in to reduce risk using effective clinical and community strategies.
To help members of the healthcare team address falls with their patients, STEADI offers a series of free tools and resources, including:
- Case studies and tips for talking with older patients about falls.
- Instructional videos for checking the working ability.
- Screening tools.
- Educational materials for patients and their families.
What You Can Do to Prevent Falls
These are some simple things you can do to keep yourself from falling.
Talk to Your Doctor
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about taking vitamin D supplements.
Do Strength and Balance Exercises
Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance. For example, Tai Chi.
Have Your Eyes Checked
Visit your eye doctor at least once a year. Be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
Make Your Home Safe
- Get rid of things you could trip over.
- Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Put railings on both sides of the stairs.
- Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/data/deaths-from-falls.html, https://www.cdc.gov/features/older-adult-falls/index.html, https://www.cdc.gov/features/older-adult falls/index.html#:~:text=Help%20manage%20fall%20risk%20and,injuries%20and%20death%20from%20injury.