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Fall Prevention For The Elderly Essay

2303 words - 10 pages

Why, exactly, is fall prevention for the elderly so important? For starters, it is the leading cause of accidental death for those 65 years and older, approximately 33% of adults 65 years and older fall each year, a fall is the most common cause for a visit to the emergency room, and falls cause 90% of all hip fractures. Then, after a fall has occurred, 40% of those hospitalized for hip fracture do not return to independent living, nearly 20% will die within the year following, and seniors who fall once are two to three times more likely to fall again. Studies show exercises that build balance and lower-body strength reduce the risk of falls by 33%, which can be a simple solution to lower these statistics. This paper will focus on the interventions used to prevent falling accidents in elderly through the use of exercise programs that strengthen muscle, improve reaction time, and enhance movement mechanics.
A quick background on the more common risk factors that promote falling is needed to understand how they can be prevented in the first place. There are four main categories that each of these risk factors fall under: biological, psychological, behavioral, and environmental. Biological factors include muscle weakness, lack of balance, vision issues, and nerve/circulation problems. Muscle weakness is one of the more important risk factors because those who have not maintained muscle strength, flexibility, and endurance lack the tools needed to avoid injury. Those who have poor balance have difficulty walking, which makes them more susceptible to falling and those with poor vision are more unaware of their surroundings/ where they are stepping. Nerve and circulation problems can also hinder a person’s senses to where they cannot feel the ground beneath them to know where they are stepping. A psychological factor common among the elderly is “fallophobia”. This is a phenomenon in which the individual suffering has a fear of falling that most likely stemmed from memory of a previous, similar experience. Behavioral factors include inactivity, side effects from medication, and alcohol use. Inactivity kind of goes hand in hand with muscle weakness; if a person is inactive they are not using or strengthening their muscles, which allows them to atrophy. Part of the aging process is becoming more reliant on medications that can increase an individual’s risk of falling due to side effects like dizziness or confusion. Additionally, the more medications a person is taking, including over-the-counter medicine, the more likely they are to fall. Similarly to side effects from medication, side effects from consuming alcohol can also lead to a greater chance of having a spill. Intoxication often leads to impaired balance, vision, reaction time, and hearing. Environmental factors include hazards found in places most frequented by an individual and use of ineffective assistive devices. Over half of all falls occur at home while a person is doing...

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