Falls and the Elderly

Falls are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in our aged community. These become more likely with age due to a number of factors including reduced muscle bulk, reduced proprioception and reflexes, vision loss, psychological players and the use of some medications amongst others. It is key to prevent falls in the elderly for they, in many cases, have serious sequelae notably fractures of the hip and head injuries.

Besides age, other factors can also put an individual at risk of having a fall. A propensity to faint for any medical reason such as the administration of drugs used to treat hypertension may.  These may induce postural hypotension which could induce syncope if an individual stood quickly from a sitting or lying position. The use of bifocals can also potentially cause a fall, such as if an individual was to look through the wrong lens when attempting a more difficult maneuver such as walking down a flight of stairs. In cases, being in a hospital environment itself can produce a fall. Often, falls can recur and fear of falling can become a significant barrier to being able to undertake activities of daily living.

As a serious issue, prevention of falls should be considered carefully. This may be achieved by decluttering the home and removing any potential trip hazards. Modifications may also be made in the home such as the use of bars and rails. If deemed appropriate a change to medications or interventions could be undertaken for any other medical condition that could potentially precipitate a fall. An appropriate level of exercise and balance training is also beneficial in most cases. If a fall does occur the wearing of hip protectors can also be used to reduce the risk of hip fracture.