One of the things many adult children to elderly parents fear is that their parent will fall and hurt themselves. Falls can cause serious injuries, like fractures and head injuries. Sometimes falls leave seniors disabled and they can even lead to death. Knowing more about the dangers of falls and what can put your parent at risk for them can help you to recognize whether parent might need assistance in preventing a fall.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of people who are aged 65 or older fall every year. That equates to about 1 out of 4 seniors falling. However, fewer than half of people who fall tell their doctors about it. They may think the fall is nothing serious because they weren’t injured or only had minor injuries. Or, they may be worried about being seen as weak or incapable. Unfortunately, falling once makes it twice as likely that they will fall again.
The statistics concerning falls are alarming. The CDC offers the following facts about falls:
- One-fifth of falls results in a serious injury, like a fracture or head injury.
- Three million people are seen in emergency rooms every year for injuries due to falls.
- 800,000 people are admitted to the hospital each year because of a fall injury.
- 300,000 people are admitted because of hip fractures.
- 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls.
- Falls are the number one cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Risk Factors for Falling
While simply getting older is a risk factor for falling, there are several other things that increase the likelihood of your elderly parent taking a spill. Some risk factors for falling are:
- Having weakened muscles in the lower body.
- Being afraid of falling, which can cause people to alter their gait or reduce physical activity, making them weaker.
- Low levels of vitamin D.
- Problems with vision or hearing.
- Certain medications that can cause dizziness or balance problems.
- Problems with walking or balance.
- Pain in the feet.
- Improper shoes, such as a poor fit or slippery soles.
- Household hazards, like loose rugs, clutter, and uneven surfaces.
If you recognize any of these risk factors in your parent, elder care can assist with preventing falls. An elder care provider can help to keep the home clean and free of clutter. Elder care providers can also offer assistance while walking to steady your parent against a fall. Elder care providers can also encourage physical activity to increase muscle strength and improve balance.