Falls Free Initiative- Preventing Falls at Home
Updated: Jul 14, 2019
Mrs Thankam has been always an active lady. She went for daily walks with her friends and this kept her socially engaged. After her husband’s death few years back, she found support in her friends circle. Few months back, she developed giddiness especially in the mornings. She ignored it as part of her ageing body and never thought to discuss with her doctor or friends. One day she was found unconscious in her toilet. She had slipped in her toilet, banged her head against the floor. She fractured her hip and had to be operated upon. Today she is mostly confined to her bed and is depressed.
Falls are common in elders. It is known as one of the Geriatric Giants- a terminology indicating the drastic effect it can have on the quality of life of the elder.
· Studies shows that 1 in 3 elders above the age of 60 year fall down every year. The numbers goes up as age advances.
· Falls account for majority of hip fractures in elderly.
· More than half of falls in elderly happens when they are walking. A third of falls happen while elders take bath.
· 40 percent of falls happen at home. At Home, majority of falls happen either in the restroom or in pathway between bedroom rest room .
· More than half of the falls in elderly happen during morning time.
· Slips followed by trips are the most common cause for falls. Elder usually slip over wet floors and trip over cluttered objects on the floor.
· Fear of falls is major contributor to increased dependence and lower mobility in elders. Elders often restrict their activities following a fall which leads to social isolation.
Reason for fall
· As our body ages, muscles undergo deconditioning as part of lesser mobility and loss of protein mass.
· Impairment in vision contributes to trips and slips
· Medications especially sleeping aids, anti- depressants, Blood pressure lowering medications and anti-seizure medicines contribute to falls
· Neuropathy especially in elders with conditions like diabetes causes impairment in judgement of ground level and contributes to fall.
· Movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease causes impairment in coordination and balance contributing to falls.
· Urge incontinence- urgency to pass urine and inability to control the urge, often leads to falls.
· Pain especially of the knees contributes to knees giving away while walking and falls.
How to prevent falls
· Keep your home clutter free and make sure pathways are always clear and lighted.
· Have your medications reviewed by your physician. Various drugs and drug interactions contributes to falls. It is better to have a single prescription of all your medicines.
· Use walkers and canes as per recommendations from a medical team. Unnecessary use of walking aides also contributes to falls.
· Walking is the best exercise to strengthen your muscles and improve balance. Consult a physiotherapist to assess your gait and recommend specific exercises
· Modify your home to suit your body needs. Hand rails and grabs are recommended to keep you safe at home. Simple modifications like overhead lights, commode raiser and hand held shower reduces risk of falls.
· Keep floors and tiles dry.
· Incontinence can be managed with trainable bladder habits, use of diapers and medications. Consult your physician.
· Balance exercises like yoga and Tai Chi improves your balance and coordination
· Check your vision regularly. Always wear glass when walking
· Wear appropriate footwear. It is recommended that you use appropriate footwear inside home too.
Dr Rahul Padmanabhan is a consultant in Geriatrics and Gerontology with a decade of experience in elder care. He specializes in home and community based geriatrics and is currently medical director of Dr Rahul’s Elder Care, Coimbatore.
Dr Rahul's Elder Care is top geriatric Care service providers in Coimbatore.