The statistics on falls among older adults are shocking: one in three seniors falls every year. They are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries among seniors. Equally as troubling, once a senior has a fall, they are two to three times more likely to fall again.
You can help protect a senior loved one from becoming one of those statistics by learning more about the most common reasons older adults fall.
Why Do Seniors Experience Falls?
Here’s what research shows are the most likely reasons for a senior to experience a fall:
In-home hazards: Older adults are more likely than younger ones to live in the same house for several decades. In many cases, the house probably wasn’t designed with senior safety in mind. Potential hazards include inaccessible bathrooms, poor lighting, and a lot of stairs. Neglecting maintenance issues can also present problems. Torn carpeting and uneven stair treads are a few examples.
Sedentary lifestyle: Sitting too much and not engaging in routine exercise can cause muscles to deteriorate. The loss of core strength can lead to balance problems that ultimately result in a fall. Once an older adult falls, they may become even more sedentary for fear of falling again. But this can actually increase the likelihood of another fall. Unless the senior’s physician has them on restricted activity, routine fitness activities are usually necessary for avoiding a fall.
Poor nutrition: Seniors who struggle with meal planning and preparation are at increased risk for poor nutrition and falls. Problems with tasks like cutting and chopping healthy foods can be the result of osteoarthritis or Parkinson’s disease. Lack of transportation to the grocery store can cause an older adult to rely on easy-to-prepare foods, such as frozen dinners and canned goods. While convenient, they are usually high in fat and sodium and low in nutritional value. It can all add up to poor nutrition that causes a senior to be weaker and less steady on their feet.
Vision changes: A senior may experience a fall due to a change in vision. Conditions like cataracts and glaucoma are more common with age, as is a loss of depth perception. A pair of glasses might be outdated. These types of vision problems can lead to falls, especially in a house with poor lighting and uneven stair treads.
Medication side effects: If a senior loved one is taking any medications, some may come with side effects that cause dizziness. The same holds true for adverse reactions or medication interactions. It may lead an older adult to be unsteady on their feet and put them at risk for a fall.
Dehydration: Another reason a senior can be unsteady and more likely to fall is dehydration. They may be suffering from dehydration and not even realize it. Chronic health conditions and medication side effects are all contributing factors.
If you aren’t able to pinpoint the reason behind a senior loved one’s balance problems, it’s likely an issue that needs to be discussed with their primary care physician. The doctor might be able to figure out the cause and help you work on a plan for correcting it.
Assisted Living: An Environment Designed to Reduce Falls
A solution that can bring an older adult and their loved ones peace of mind is moving to an assisted living community. They are designed with senior safety in mind. A smaller residence, like Bella Vista, might be especially appealing. You’ll find a community that is thoughtfully constructed, from single-story living to accessible bathrooms with grab bars.
If your family’s search for assisted living includes the metro Phoenix area, we invite you to call (480) 770-4660 to schedule a time for a personal tour!