Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for elderly adults and significant recovery time is often required to repair broken bones, rebuild strength, restore confidence and overcome fears to protect an older person’s quality of life.
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Preventing Fall Injuries
According to the National Council on Aging, seniors over the age of 65 have a one in four chance of falling and sustaining serious injuries and fatalities. A senior adult seeks emergency medical treatment for fall injuries every 11 seconds. Broken bones, hip and leg fractures, and head injuries are common in elderly falls, and recovery time for severe injuries can take months or even years.
After a fall, most seniors become cautious about future falls, but that caution often turns into fear. Fall prevention programs can help fall victims overcome fears of falling, rebuild strength, regain confidence, and improve their lifestyle.
Approximately 75 percent of seniors injured in falls have a fear of falling again, and half of them restrict their daily activities to prevent future falls. Ironically, this lack of activity only results in muscle weakness, loss of stamina, and lack of confidence which increases the fear of falling. The fear of falling often creates anxiety about future hospital stays, more rehabilitation and therapy, decreased mobility, and loss of independence.
After a fall injury, rebuilding strength is essential to prevent future falls. Strength training, balance programs, and physical therapy can help to build muscle and strengthen bones. Physical activity plays an important role in the aging process. Seniors who remain inactive and restrict activities after a fall run the risk of faster physical and mental decline that speeds aging.
To regain confidence, it’s important to eliminate potential slip and fall accidents that can cause injuries. In the home, tripping hazards like extension cords, throw rugs, boxes, and piles of newspapers should be removed. To reduce the chance of falling in the shower, grab bars and non-slip floor mats are essential. Inside and outside of the home, seniors need adequate lighting and non-skid surfaces to reduce slip and fall injuries. For added confidence, elderly adults should always carry a cell phone or a medical alert system to reach immediate help in emergencies.