HighRisk of fall among the Elderly
HighRisk of fall among the Elderly
Fallsare common among the elderly due to the physiologic and anatomicchanges brought by aging (Marks, 2014). They lead to serious injuriessuch as hip fractures that limit activity. They also cause highmorbidity and mortality that place considerable strain on the healthcare delivery system through hospitalizations and treatment. Thesefalls result from identifiable risk factors. The identification andelimination of these risk factors can significantly reduce theincidence of falls among the elderly (Kuehn, 2010). This paperdiscusses the factors that predispose the elderly to the falls.
Variouschanges occur with aging predisposing the elderly to the falls.Neuromuscular and sensory changes lead to decreased nerve conductionthat causes slowed motor responses. The normal reflexes becomesluggish, making it hard for the elderly person to readjust bodyweight during a slide. Additionally, the elderly experience loss ofcoordination and unsteady gait which impair the speed, effectiveness,and reliability of postural reflexes and coordination leading tofalls (Chisel, Gainsay & Fred, 2015). Some health conditionsassociated with the elderly require them to use tranquilizers,sedatives, and antidepressants that affect balance and stability,therefore an upsurge by 40% in the danger of falling.
Musculoskeletalchanges with aging also exposed an individual to more falling risks.The elderly experience loss of bone density due to reduced Calciumuptake and bone mineralization (Kuehn, 2010). The sedentarylifestyles of most elderly persons weaken muscles and bones makingthem vulnerable to falls and fractures. The weak bones and muscleslead to reduced lower extremity strength that cannot withstand thebody weight leading to falls. Joints become unstable and painfuljoints from conditions such as arthritis impairing postural controland walking.
Theimpairment of vision limits the functional ability of the elderly.Poor dark adaptation reduces the ability of the elderly to adjustfrom light to darkness to increase the risk of accidents and injury(Marks, 2014). Age-related hearing changes increase the incidence oftinnitus and vertigo that can result in falls. The vestibular systemis responsible for maintaining balance. Therefore, the vestibulardisorders associated with aging lead to postural instability andfalls.
Theprevention of such falls involves the assessment and elimination ofrisk factors, exercise programs to strengthen muscles and bones, andenvironmental inspection to reduce hazards such as slippery floors(Marks, 2014). Treatment of vision impairment and other medicalconditions such as arthritis that affect walking also reduces fallingrisks. An interdisciplinary approach should be applied to preventsuch falls. Caregivers, health providers, patients, andphysiotherapists should work collaboratively to abate the fallingmenaces among the elderly (Kuehn, 2010).
Mostfalls result from a combination of the risk factors addressed above.They cause injuries such as broken bones and fractures reducing thequality of life of the elderly. Falls also has a significantpsychosocial impact on the life of the elderly. 70% of the elderlywho have fallen at one point in their life acknowledge living in fearof falling again. Such anxiety makes them avoid physical andfunctional activities, reducing their overall quality of life(Chisel, Gainsay & Fred, 2015). Additionally, falls alters theidentity of the elderly leading to poor self-rated health and lack ofself-satisfaction. They also affect friendships leading to lonelinessand emotional isolation from being unable to visit friends.
Inconclusion, falls are a significant health issue affecting theelderly. Falls precipitate adverse physical, social, psychologicaland economic consequences. The changes that occur with agingheightens the falling risks. Proper risk identification and hazardelimination of the multidisciplinary team reduces the risk of suchfalls among the elderly. As a result, the mortality and morbidityresulting from falls are reduced and the quality of life of theelderly improved considerably.
Chisel,J., Gainsay, D., & Fred, A. (2015). Falls and psychosocialfactors among community-dwelling elderly persons: a review andintegration of findings from Israel. – PubMed – NCBI.Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 1 December 2015, fromhttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2485917
Kuehn,B. (2010). Primary Care Screening and Intervention Helps PreventFalls Among Elderly. JAMA, 303 (20), 2019.
Marks,R. (2014). Falls Among the Elderly: Multi-factorial Community-basedFalls-Prevention Programs. Journal of Aging Science, 02(01).