Understanding Fall Accidents
Fall accident among elderly
Fall accidents are very common among our ageing population. According to CDC, “Each year, millions of older people—those 65 and older—fall. In fact, more than one out of four older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again.“
Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in the United States. The most common type of fall injury is a fracture, which can be in any bone in the body. The severity of these injuries depends on the height fallen and whether the person lands on their feet or backside. In US, Over 800,000 patients a year are hospitalised because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.
What Happens during a Fall?
The human body, when in free fall, will accelerate at 9.8 meters per second squared until the person hits the ground and stops moving. The physics behind this is that as gravity pulls you towards earth, your inertia pushes back against it; because of this constant struggle between forces, you keep accelerating at a steady rate until you stop moving altogether. The acceleration causes their body to go into free fall and creates an impact with the ground that can be up to twice as hard.
Where do people usually fall from?
There are a lot of different scenarios that contributes to fall accidents like
- Falls on stairs or steps
- Trips and falls due to objects on the ground, like rug, bags, etc.
- Slips and falls on wet surfaces (like floors)
- Falls from heights (usually off ladders)
- Accidents while walking or running on uneven surfaces (i.e. being hit by a car)
Main reasons for elderly fall accidents
The elderly are susceptible to falls due to a number of reasons, including weak muscles, poor balance, lack of coordination, and vision impairment. .Dementia is the most common cause of falls in the elderly. Falls are a major contributing factor to death and disability in older adults, as they result in emergency room visits, hospitalisations, injuries, fractures and subdural hematomas.
Why is it important to be aware of fall risks for your loved ones?
It is important to be aware of fall risks for your loved ones because it can help prevent accidents. If you know that a family member has fallen in the past and may have an increased risk of falling again, you can take steps to avoid this from happening by installing appropriate interventions like handrails or modifying their home environment.
Assessing Risk Factors
Fall risk assessment – About the individual
A fall risk assessment is a way to identify the factors that put an individual at increased risk of falls. It typically consists of several questions about the person’s medical history and current physical abilities, such as medications, vision or hearing difficulties, incontinence, reduced mobility and balance problems. The examination may also include tests for balance problems and strength issues. It can be used in any setting, such as homes and hospitals, but it is most often performed by health care professionals in nursing homes or rehabilitation centres.
Home assessment – About the environment
A home assessment is a process of evaluating the risks and hazards in an individual’s living environment. The assessment should include all areas where the person lives, including the yard.
The goal of this evaluation is to identify potential environmental or personal risk factors that may lead to falls. Once these factors are identified, they can be addressed with safety modifications and/or instructions on how to avoid them.
Falls are Dangerous but…
Falls among older people are dangerous, but they are not completely inevitable. We can reduce the risk of falls by being aware of the risks and taking appropriate precautions.