You probably don’t spend your days looking forward to the opportunity to fall down. It is inevitable that at some point in your life that you will experience a slip, trip, or fall. However, as you age there are some serious repercussions that could arise from an everyday tumble. In the aftermath of a simple slip, trip, or fall you could even find yourself dealing with some medical conditions which require long-term treatment and which may result in compromising your independence.
The Dangers of Falls as You Age
A 2016 press release by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares that falls are the primary cause of injury and deaths resulting from injuries among older adults in America. They also point out that falls among older adults can often signal the end of their independence.
There are some serious consequences that can arise from a simple fall, at age 65 or older Americans. One of those complications which are being found to result from age-related falls is a traumatic brain injury. Other repercussions can include broken bones, serious damage to muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons, and lacerations, which can be much harder to recover from as a result of the age-related bodily function.
It is also possible that you might even develop medical conditions resulting from serious injury to the body. You may also find that once you have healed from an injury, you are at risk for decreased function depending on the way that your body has dealt with the damage. For instance, if there is a laceration, or tear in a muscle, scar tissue can develop which may impact your range of motion and potentially hinder your mobility.
There is another reality that you should take the time to consider. When assessing and treating older adults, it is possible that doctors or other medical professionals, as well as caring family members, can focus on visible injuries related to falls while forgetting to check for traumatic brain injury.
Risk Factors for Falls
Falls are usually the result of a combination of risk factors at play. Keeping this in mind, the fewer risks that are present, the less likely it is that you will experience a fall. Preventing a fall can be as simple as recognizing, and taking the appropriate action to minimize the number of risks present.
Experiencing one, or a combination, of any of the following, can put you at a heightened risk:
- Muscle weakness, largely when it pertains to your legs
- Light headedness or dizziness
- Problems with your feet including deformities and/or pain
- Balance problems
- Hearing and/or vision problems
- Side effects of medications (drowsiness or dizziness)
- Loss of consciousness such as black-outs
As you age, you may also find that a decrease in mobility could result in an increased risk for falls. It is possible that you may be dealing with a medical condition which is contributing to impaired function. Conditions such as arthritis, muscle pain, depression, and even neurological disorders can play a role in hindering your mobility. With a lack of mobility present, you may find it more difficult to avoid simple obstacles which can increase your risk of falling. It may also increase your risk of losing your balance, especially if you are already prone to poor balance.
There are some strategies which you can implement in order to reduce your risk of having a serious spill. The first and best line of defense when it comes to protecting you from injury or trauma related to falls is regular exercise. Working out has many benefits that are far-reaching, no matter what age.
Physical activity can help strengthen your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, allowing them to meet the demands of everyday life. This includes the occasional tumble. Implementing weight-bearing exercises in your routine can also help to increase bone density, which will not only help you fight off osteoporosis but can additionally safeguard you from broken bones.
You should also be aware of clutter in the home, where you are most likely to be a bit complacent. Ensuring that you have clear walkways throughout the rooms in your home can go a long way to preventing a nasty spill.
Another effort that you can make at home to help prevent falls, or at least minimize the potential damage from one is to utilize aids that can cushion your impact. Use of items such as fall mats, cushions, or even a bed wedge can be useful in the prevention of injuries related to a fall. A bedside safety mat can not only help to cushion the impact in the event of a tumble, but they can also include other helpful features such as an alarm to alert family members and/or caregivers to your location. These are also not limited to only being used bedside. You may find that they are effective in locations such as beside couches, chairs, or even in the bathroom if need be.
If you are at a stage where your mobility is impaired, you may find it helpful to implement walking aids so that you can properly balance while on the move. This can help reduce the risk of a fall from a balance/mobility issue, and give you the ability to move around with more peace of mind. If a mobility issue is keeping you from regular physical activity, tools like these can help get you back in the game.
Falls can be dangerous as you age, but they may also be warning signs of other health conditions, both new and possibly worsening. You should make sure that if you having health issues that you are speaking with your doctor in order to get the proper diagnosis and treatment to help you avoid a fall which could potentially do more damage in the long run. You may also find that if you are getting your regular check-ups that it is more likely that you may identify and prevent illnesses which can have more serious consequences down the line.