According to RoSPA, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, falling accounts for 71% of all fatal accidents to those 65 and older, and 54% of all injuries. Although there certainly are other accidents that occur, the lion’s share that falling captures is primarily due to the decrease of mobility, balance, and physique inevitable to long-term aging. Other contributors to risk are present, as listed below:
- Acute Medical Incidents: Situations where normal functioning levels are reduced drastically, such as a stroke or heart attack
- Chronic Diseases and Disorders: Long-standing conditions that limit strength and perception, including blindness, diabetes, and amputation
- Environmental hazards: Poorly designed or arranged living quarters where tripping or slipping possibilities exist
- Nutritional Deficiency: Lacking critical vitamins (Vitamin D), minerals (Calcium), and caloric intake to sustain proactive living
- Gender and Genetics: Female elderly persons statistically fall more often and more severely than their male counterparts
- History of Previous Falls: Contrary to common belief, once an individual has had a significant fall, they are more susceptible to another
As bleak as some of this information may sound, an encouraging thought that follows is that many of these are preventable given proper planning and forethought. Three primary remedies are:
- Proactivity: Taking designated time to plan out specifics of an elderly person’s living area and daily habits is essential, yet often overlooked. Taking an intensive look around a house, and identify even the slightest potential hazards can make a pivotal difference.
- Consistency: Deviations from routine affect us all, but particularly strike our elderly more, because they are less adaptable to less-than-ideal circumstances. Keeping up a reliable nutrition plan and time of day to take medications will go a long way in keeping senior citizens in their best possible levels of well-being.
- Equipment: Purchasing protective items such as hip protectors and sturdy railings/banisters for those at risk of falling. They may not seem necessary now, but could prevent huge pain, medical bills, and perhaps even death.