Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Number one cause of falls for older adults

The Number One Thing That Causes Seniors to Stumble

Water-soaked bathtubs and hidden patches of black ice may be the go-to suspects when it comes to senior falls, but recent research published in "The Lancet," tells a different story about tumbles in long-term care communities.

Scientists examined video clips of hundreds of aging adults staying in long-term care and found some interesting patterns:

  • The number one cause of senior stumbles? Loss of balance. 41 percent of falls occurred when a movement unexpectedly shifted a senior's center of gravity, causing them to lose their stability and topple over.
  • Trips and stumbles accounted for 21 percent of tumbles. While slips (i.e. in the bathtub) only caused 3 percent of senior spills.
  • Most falls happened when a senior was doing one of three activities: walking forward (24 percent), standing (13 percent) or sitting (12 percent).
Caregivers can help prevent falls
Falling poses a significant threat to a senior's health.
Among the aging population, falls are the primary cause of hospitalization and death from an injury. About one out of every three elders takes a tumble each year.
There are some steps you can take to keep your loved one steady on their feet:
  1. Encourage physical activity: According to the National Institutes of Health, muscle weakness and inflexibility are two key factors that can increase an elder's risk of falling. Exercise programs that focus on increasing a loved one's strength, endurance and flexibility can cut their chances of experiencing a serious stumble.
  2. Get their medications checked: Certain medications (or medication combinations) can make a senior more prone to feelings of dizziness or disorientation. If you feel your loved one's prescriptions are upping their odds for a fall, check-in with their doctor to see what can be done.
  3. Remove obstacles: Whenever possible, make sure to clear a path for your loved one by removing tripping hazards such as area rugs, low-lying furniture and loose electrical cords.
 
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