We’ve all read the statistics from the Centers of Disease Control that 33% of all people over 65 years old will suffer a fall in their own home each year. But that statistic does not really tell the whole story of what happens to seniors after a fall.
Falls are an unfortunate part of growing older. We all need to take precautions to make sure the home environment is as safe as possible. We’ve written numerous posts on how to make a bathroom safer for seniors, how to eliminate clutter that leads to a fall, and how to generally make a fall less likely to occur.
But the physical and psychological impact on seniors after a fall is much more far reaching - for both the senior and the family. A report from the Division of Aging and Seniors, Public Health Agency of Canada, details what a fall can really mean. Here are two excerpts:
Consequences on Seniors After a Fall: The Physical Aftermath
A fall is often accompanied by physical complications. As a matter of fact, falls are the most common cause of injury among seniors.
Besides bruises and scrapes, one-third of seniors who fall suffer fractures or muscle damage. They can also develop pneumonia, blood clots or other after-effects after they lie on the ground for an extended period.
Hip fractures are the most common injury. Among people over age 65, approximately 40% of fall-related injuries resulting in hospitalization are due to hip fractures.
Consequences on Seniors After a Fall: The Psychological Aftermath
It’s normal to be more cautious after a fall, but the fear of falling again may lead you to restrict your activities. This is a vicious circle: the less active you are, the more your strength and flexibility decrease, which increases your risk for falling. What’s more, if you isolate yourself because you feel vulnerable, the reduced social contacts may undermine your spirits.
Discussing your fear of falling with your family or with health professionals should help diminish your fear. A physiotherapist can also suggest various rehabilitation exercises that will help you.
Taking a fall brings your physical limitations to the surface and may jeopardize your independence. It’s a difficult experience to go through. Knowing the potential consequences of a fall and knowing what to do will set you on the path to a faster physical recovery and a return to enjoying life.
While a medical alert system will not prevent a fall, it can help a person get assistance immediately. This eliminates some of the physical impact that comes from a fall. We also see many of our clients become more independent once they get their medical alert system – they now feel more confident to go outside, work in the garden, etc.
Unfortunately, according to the CDC and several other studies, about a third of all seniors will fall in their own home each year. The important thing is how we help our seniors after a fall.