Preventing and Treating Falls in the Elderly

Senior

Falls are the leading cause of injury among senior citizens and the number one cause of accidental death in over 65’s. You can learn how to prevent and treat falls to help save a life.

Every year, emergency departments across the country are filled with older people who have had accidents.  The top reason for having to go to the ER among people in that age group is falls and while tripping over may not seem like a serious event, it becomes more dangerous as the person advances in age due to a variety of factors.  Bones become thinner, increasing the chance of fractures and the need for surgery. The immune system weakens, leaving fall victims susceptible to infections and injuries that take a long time to heal and there may be multiple medication usages – known as polypharmacy – that can cause disorientation and dizziness and make accidents more likely.

Reducing the Risk of Falls

There are things you can do in the home to prevent falls.  These include:

  • Removing all rugs from the floor as they are a slip hazard
  • Securing any loose carpets
  • Getting cable tidies if there are any wires on the floor
  • Fixing handrails or a stair lift to the stairways
  • Making sure the seating is high enough that the person can get up and down without falling
  • Fixing handrails to showers or bathtubs and placing non-slip mats in them.  (Make sure the mats are removed after use)
  • Install a raised toilet seat
  • If the person struggles with steps, consider the possibility of installing grab rails on the outside of the house
  • Give the person a cell phone they can use to call for help if they fall
  • Make sure there is adequate lighting
  • If the person is finding housework challenging, investigate the possibility of hiring a home care aide or help them clear the clutter as this could be dangerous.

Treating Fall Injuries

If you see someone fall, you can assist by first assessing their condition.  Are they conscious or unconscious?  If they can get up, but they experience pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches or confusion, you should call for medical assistance.

If they cannot get up, call the emergency services, keep them warm with a blanket or clothing and administer first aid.  You can attend a senior first aid training course and learn all the skills you need to help a senior after a fall.  Courses are available seven days a week at a variety of times to suit you so that you can fit in the training with your other responsibilities.  When you invest in a course, you could save a life.