Falls are the leading cause of traumatic mortality in older adults and nearly three million older adult are seen annually in the United States emergency departments for a fall of some sort (Solie et al., 2020). Environmental modifications in the homes/assisted livings/nursing homes are necessary as fall risks become more likely with age and align closely with assessments that test an individuals functional abilities (Luk et al., 2015). According to the CDC, adults over 65 have a 25% greater risk of falling than younger people; it's thought if someone falls once, their risk of falling again doubles, triples and so on if the falls continue to occur.
Over the past eight years of working in geriatric care management, at least 50-70% of my clients call me after their loved one has experienced a fall which then unfortunately leads them to a decline in their overall health. So, to answer the question (title of this blog), 'Why is a "fall" seen as such a serious event as we get older?' is because mortality increases after a fall and care is most likely required by either family, an assisted living, home health or a home care agency.
A fall can be a major traumatic event. Depending on the seriousness of the injury from a fall, recovery may be challenging and lengthy. Below is a list of possible reasons that a fall could occur in older adults:
loss of muscle/strength
decline in cognition/concentration/spatial awareness
eyesight changes or decline
unsafe living/environmental conditions
lack of mobility assistive devices
Some changes as we age are inevitable, while some are more manageable. If you or someone you care about are at risk for falls, hopefully this information will encourage you to be more aware.
If you are looking for some modifications and insight to decrease falls in your loved one, contact Laura Cassell, Gerontologist and Franchise Owner of Senior Care Authority and she can conduct a specific non-medical geriatric assessment fitting your concerns.
Environmental assessments are usually conducted in combination with other geriatric specific assessments to pinpoint the specific care concerns.
Laura Cassell M.S. in Applied Aging Sciences, Franchise Area Owner, Gerontologist and Dementia Practitioner
Luk et. al. (2015). Falls prevention in the elderly: translating evidence into practice.
Hong Kong Medical Journal Practice. 21: 2. 165-171 Retrieved From https://doi.org/10.12809/hkmj144469
Solie, C. J., Swanson, M. B., Harland, K., Blum, C., Kin, K., & Mohr, N. (2020). Two-Item Fall Screening Tool Identifies Older Adults at Increased Risk of Falling after Emergency Department Visit. The western journal of emergency medicine, 21(5), 1275–1282.
Retrieved From https://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2020.5.46991