A fall is an unintentional transition to a resting position on a lower level, excluding a purposeful change in body position to rest on furniture or other objects. Falls are a significant problem among older people, as they can become traumatic. Therefore, these people should always be aware of this threat and prevent possible damage by acting carefully and deliberately. In addition, people who fall should know who to contact and what treatment would be beneficial for them. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the leading causes of falls and how to avoid them.
There are various risk factors for falling in old age. These include, for example, environmental ones: ill-conceived house and yard planning, slippery stairs, dilapidated railings, ice, wet floors, or insufficient lighting. These factors can lead to injury, although they are not always noticeable (Slade et al., 2017). Many social risk factors can also cause a fall or poor treatment after it. These include low income, social isolation of older people, inaccessibility of medical care and means of prevention, and unadapted place of residence (apartments not equipped in a particular way). These problems are challenging to solve since they require government funding and a revision of some of the rules and regulations established in the country.
Various biological factors leading to falls, such as age and gender, should also be mentioned. The older the patients are, the more often they fall; in addition, women fall more often than men. However, men are more likely to die from these falls (Phelan et al., 2015). Some diseases certainly increase the risk of falls at any age. Behavioral risk factors are also critical, and doctors should pay attention to them as well. Older adults must follow specific rules of behavior and movement to stay safe. For example, they should be able to illuminate the staircase well and always use the handrail. They must choose special suitable shoes, that should not be slippery, and the sole should not be too thick, because this leads to a loss of sensitivity.
When choosing furniture, older people should not choose objects that are too low, as they can easily trip over. Mats, on which patients can accidentally slip, can become the cause of the fall as well. All aisles in an older person’s home should be wide enough so that they do not have to walk sideways, which increases the risk of falling sideways. The tidiness of the room is also of great importance: toys or other objects that independently lie in the room of an older adult can cause tragedy. In this situation, special attention should be paid to the wires. Only bright lamps should be used for lighting; corners should be especially well illuminated. As a rule, light sources should be near the patient so that the person does not have to walk in the dark at night.
In addition, it is essential to remember about medical prevention and treatment of falls. There are, for example, many antihypertensive or sedative medications that can cause falls if overdose. However, ophthalmologists and cardiologists, by timely performing cataract surgery or installing pacemakers, significantly reduce the risk of falls in older people. Nurses play a significant role in the healing and education process too. They are those who can explain to people all the risks and help adjust the life rules, making the existence safe enough. Thus, there are many risk factors for falls among older adults. At the same time, there are different ways to prevent injury that, if done correctly, will help people and even save their lives.
Phelan, E. A., Mahoney, J. E., Voit, J. C., & Stevens, J. A. (2015). Assessment and management of fall risk in primary care settings. Medical Clinics of North America, 99(2), 281-293.
Slade, S. C., Carey, D. L., Hill, A., & Morris, M. E. (2017). Effects of falls prevention interventions on falls outcomes for hospitalised adults: Protocol for a systematic review with meta-analysis. BMJ Open, 7(11), 1-6.