Each year as we grow older, the threat of falling becomes more concerning. While most falls don’t cause serious injuries, there’s always a chance injury can occur. According to the NHS, 1 in 3 people aged over 65 have a serious fall every year. This is increased to half of people over 80. Age UK discovered that 36% of older adults are more concerned about elderly falls than any other danger in their life.
But why and how do serious elderly falls occur? Identifying the leading causes of falls in elderly people can help you to avoid danger and stay on your feet.
How Do Elderly Falls Happen?
Outside of external risk factors, like a cluttered environment or unsteady ground, the leading causes of falls are from medical conditions. While a single condition won’t necessarily increase your chances of having a serious fall, a combination of them could be cause for concern. Once risks are identified, you can take steps to reduce the risks and continue living a full life without worrying about having a hard fall.
Causes of Falls Amongst Over-60s
According to the World Health Organisation, people over 60 are at the greatest risk of serious injury due to a fall. Elderly falls are also the leading cause of independence loss. Risk of falling is the top reason for elderly people being referred to care.
A study by Cornell researchers found that 60% of falls happen inside the homes of over-60s. 30% are outside during a public activity like shopping, while 10% happen in healthcare settings like hospitals.
The following are the leading causes of falls:
Having your feet hindered is one of most significant causes of falls. Problems like ingrowing nails or corns can make it painful to walk, which will make you less confident on your feet. Any condition that makes your feet numb can also increase the chance of elderly falls, due to the inability to fully feel the floor as you step.
As an additional note, if using your feet is problematic, it could make it difficult for you to stay active. This could lead to the next cause of falls in the elderly.
Weak Leg Muscles
The weaker our leg muscles are, the more likely it is that we will fall. Strong leg muscles help us stay steady and increase the chances that we will recover from a stumble. As we age, our muscles get weaker, but certain conditions like arthritis can make keeping leg muscles strong extremely difficult.
As our leg muscles get weaker, we can also start to develop poor balance, which is another leading cause of falls.
Balance is crucial for preventing elderly falls. However, if you have poor balance your chances of falling are greatly increased.
Conditions like Parkinson’s disease can cause balance problems. So can certain medications such as anti-seizure or high blood pressure drugs. In fact, there are several side-effects from medication that can lead to falls in the elderly.
Many elderly people take multiple types of medication every day. While doctors ensure that these medicines don’t cause issues with each other, their side-effects can cause falls in the elderly. These could include drowsiness, clouded thoughts, unsteadiness, or blurred vision. If you are taking many medications, you could face an increased risk of falling.
When you are dizzy or lightheaded, it can be difficult to stay standing. Dizziness is one of the leading causes of falls in the elderly. If you often get dizzy, consult your GP; they may be able to identify why. Once the issue has been identified, steps can be taken to reduce the risk of falling and injuring yourself.
Vision and Hearing Problems
When you have limited hearing or sight, identifying potential trip hazards is much more difficult. Incorrectly prescribed or unfamiliar glasses can also cause falls. This is especially true if they reduce your depth perception. When this happens, you’ll be less able to spot hazards, and may find it more difficult to go down steps.
Some medical conditions can make you prone to fainting. If you sometimes black out, steps should be taken to ensure minimal injury occurs when you fall unconscious. Always speak to a medical professional if you faint and don’t know why.
How to Prevent Falls in the Elderly
The main way to prevent elderly falls is by knowing your limits. If you start to feel dizzy or weak, find a seat and rest. Your body will often give you a signal when something is wrong. Injuries occur more frequently when we ignore how we feel.
We have a guide to reducing the risks of falling at home. These include keeping living areas clean and clear of clutter. We also recommend that stairs and hallways are well-lit, especially at night. Non-slip mats in bathrooms are also an ideal way of preventing slips and falls.
What to Do If You Fall
If you have a fall, do not panic. Take a moment to assess your situation. If you are not hurt and are able to stand up, take your time attempting to get back on your feet. Slowly move onto your belly and look for a stable bit of furniture to help with balance as you stand. Hold the object with both hands to slowly help yourself up. Make sure to rest for a moment and double-check that you are okay.
If you have a personal alarm and you are unable to get up, use it to call for help. Otherwise, try to get somebody’s attention however possible. If you’re able, crawl to your phone and call 999 for an ambulance.
If you have to wait for assistance, try and warm yourself with anything you can get your hands on. Try not to stay in the same position for too long. Where possible, change your position twice an hour.
For immediate help and reassurance in the event of a fall, consider purchasing a personal alarm from Careline365.
Alarms from Careline365
At Careline365, our aim is to help people who might be vulnerable at home. Our personal alarms provide 24/7 monitoring for our customers. They are ideal for people over 60 who are at risk of falling. We also offer a fall detector alarm for added peace of mind.
To find out more about how the Careline alarm service can help you, read our helpful guide. You can also order your Careline alarm today and receive next-day delivery. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team on 0800 101 3333.