Falls – How SERIOUS is the problem?

Most of us will think that falling is NOT big a deal. You just get up and move on. However, it may pose a massive problem to the elderly patient, the family and society in general.

For older adults, a fall is one of the most common causes of hospitalisation, loss of quality of life and physical function. It also causes an elderly to lose confidence in their own mobility and feel hopelessness which leads to depression and social isolation.  This article will aim to highlight the true impact of falling.

Impact on the Patient

Facts about how falls affect the elderly.

  • 20-30% of those who fall suffer moderate to severe physical injuries including breaks, cuts, and bruising which often required medical attention.
  • Falls often result in long-term pain and disability.
  • Falls involving a hip fracture lead to 10-15% reduction in life expectancy.
  • Older adults who fall are likely to worry about the future and loss of independence.
  • Loss of self-esteem and mobility leads to decreased activity and eventually inability to perform activities of daily living. This may cause recurrent falls.
  • Elderly are less likely to take part in beneficial activities like exercising or socializing because of a fear of getting hurt again and the embarrassment of a fall.

Impact on the Family

The effects of a fall go beyond the individual and reach into the lives of family members and friends. A fall can result in:

  • The financial obligation of health care and recovery: the medical bill for recovery from the fall can be very expensive, especially if a surgery is required to allow the patient to recover from the resulting injury. On the longer term, because the patient will likely require more specialised care due to their loss of activity, the cost can increase exponentially.
  • Increased time spent on care of the older adult: spending more time to ensure the safety and health of the patient can become the centre of the family member’s lives and limit their decision-making ability.

Impact on the System

Collectively, falls in older adults are a major burden on the health care system

  • The elderly are hospitalized five times more often for fall-related injuries than any other injury.
  • Falls lead to increased use of emergency room resources, hospital admissions and extended stays.

Often older adults feel that falls are the result of an accident when in most cases the cause is PREVENTABLE!

There are simple steps that you could take to prevent falls in an older adult. Enlisting the help of a physiotherapist is one of the best way to help. A good therapist will be able to assess the cause of falls and improve their strength, endurance, gait and balance. In addition to that, they can assess the home environment for falls hazard and suggest improvement to minimise the risk.

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