Older people fall more often than people in younger age groups: About 40% of people over age 65 fall each year.
Why do older people seem to fall more?
The main reason is simply declining health that leads to such fall-related conditions as poor vision, gait and balance disorders, heart and/or lung disease, depression and/or dementia, arthritis and other bone/joint disorders that affect walking and can lead to fractures, and even bladder conditions that lead to falls at night on the way to or from the bathroom. The elderly generally use more medications than younger people, too, and many prescription drugs can cause dizziness or other problems related to falls.
What are the most common injuries among elderly people who fall?
Broken bones, or fractures, are the most common serious injury caused by elderly people falling. Others include head injuries other than fractures, joint dislocations, and soft-tissue wounds such as cuts and bruises.
My grandmother lives with us and has fallen several times. What can we do to protect her from more falls?
Most important, make sure she discusses her falling problem with her doctor as soon as possible and follows his or her recommendations to prevent future falls. Besides testing your grandmother’s vision and other faculties and reviewing the medications she’s taking, the doctor may recommend physical therapy to help her improve her strength and balance.
What can we do at home to help keep my grandmother from falling any more?
When elderly people fall, even if they aren’t seriously injured, they often begin to “slow down” and avoid doing activities that formerly provided exercise and helped keep them in good shape for daily living. The result is often more falls as the body weakens and mental alertness wanes. So two of the best things you can do to keep your grandmother from falling any more are 1) help her get some exercise — such as walking — every day and 2) help keep her occupied and alert. Look around your house to eliminate falling hazards, too: Tuck away electrical and telephone cords, throw out “throw” rugs, install “grab” bars on bathroom and tub walls, use nightlights, and keep the house free of clutter.