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Falls and Injuries

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 19 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
Falls And The Elderly Injuries Caused By

Falls and the related injuries that can result from them are the biggest cause of accidental deaths in the elderly, and it’s not necessarily just the frailest or weakest who can suffer from them. Even those who appear to be strong and relatively healthy can succumb to a fall.

Main Causes of Falls
The vast majority of falls suffered by the elderly tend to be related to ailments which are more common in older people. These include other physical mobility conditions, they may also suffer from poor eyesight or hearing and their reaction to certain types of medication.

Main Injuries Due To Falls
People can suffer terrible injuries when they fall and the elderly are more at risk of that than most. Hip fractures and other fractures in general, sprains, cuts and severe bruising can all result after a fall and if the fall is severe enough, it can so hamper an elderly person’s confidence. This lack of confidence can lead to them stopping their daily activities out of fear, causing long-term disability.

How to Reduce the Risk of Falls
There are several things you can do personally to minimise the chances of falling or at least from hurting yourself too badly if you do fall.

Firstly, make sure you wear appropriate footwear both around the house and whenever you venture out. Slippers, in particular, though comfy, often have treacherous smooth soles so you might want to consider some kind of comfy training shoe with more of a tread on it underneath. Trainers have become almost as comfortable as slippers these days and there are lightweight, slip-on varieties making them just as easy to wear as slippers.

You should keep your house well lit so that you’re able to see things you might trip over far before you’re right on top of them, and make it a priority to put away items that have been left on the floor or have been dropped onto it.

Be very careful with rugs. They may look cosy and warm but make sure they are taped or tacked down as upturned edges on rugs are one of the most commonly cited reasons for a fall.

Hold on to your banister when going up and down stairs and have handrails fitted on both sides of the stairs and things like grab rails by your front and back doors, toilet and bath if you need additional balancing support.

Make sure there are no electrical cords obstructing any area where you might walk across them and don’t use any ladders or steps unless you’re absolutely 100% confident about being steady on your feet.

Don’t use polish when cleaning your floors and make sure that any paving stones at the front and back of your house are in good condition, if appropriate.

You should also get family, friends or care givers to inspect your home to look out for any dangers you might have missed and to put those right and you should also have some kind of procedure set up whereby you call your loved ones or they call you at a pre-determined time each day so that they know you’re OK. Many deaths have been caused in the elderly by them falling down somewhere at home, not being able to get up and summon help and who haven’t been found for days as nobody realised there was anything wrong, so have some kind of contingency plan for that if you feel the situation warrants it.

Monitoring Your Well Being
If your eyesight’s not as good as it once was, it’s important that you go for regular eye checks to ensure that it hasn’t deteriorated further. Have your hearing checked out likewise. If you suffer from pains in your feet or have corns, get them seen to. Sore feet make you more likely to take unpredictable steps when you walk which might also compromise your safety.

Tell your GP immediately if you start suffering from dizzy spells and be careful when you get up to answer the door or when you get out of bed of a morning. Make sure you take things slowly, giving your blood pressure time to adjust, otherwise getting up suddenly can spark a bout of dizziness and you could end up falling.

By taking proper precautions and consulting with both your GP about any concerns you have alongside support from family and friends, you will hopefully minimise the risks associated with falls and their related injuries.

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