Community Education Project
Falls are considered to be the common cause of injury-related visits to all emergency departments in the United States. The majority of patients are aged over 65. However, the rate of mortality due to falls increases with age and is irrelevant to peoples sex, race, and ethnical belonging. Falls are associated with poor health and declining function. The primary risk factors for home falls include age, sensory deficits, use of medication, and cognitive impairment. However, many other conditions may contribute to failing too. The presentation aims at informing home health nurses and families of the elderly regarding the risk, frequency, consequences of home falls, as well as possible solutions and preventive measures.
Frequency and Costs of Falls
From 2004 to 2013, the US unintentional fall death rate was 100,000 individuals . More than 700,000 patients are hospitalized each year because due to falls, and many of them occur at home. Nearly 70% of people aged over 74 have accidental death related to falls. Also, over 90% of hip fractures are the result of falls. Most of them occur in people over 70 years of age. Every fifth fall is the cause of serious injury. Some of them even lead to brain injuries. The direct medical costs related to falls are $34 billion a year. The statistics is striking and indicates that people take measures to prevent the elderly from home falls.
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Results of Falls
It is evident that not all falls cause injuries. However, the most common results of home falls are head injuries, broken bones, arms, hips, wrists, and ankles, and fear to fall again. Other typical injuries associated with falls are disabling injuries of soft tissues, hematoma, severe laceration, joint dislocation, sprain, and many others. In most cases, the elderly do not need any medical attention. However, serious injuries require immediate hospitalization and thorough examination. The most severe home fall outcomes are immediate death or injuries that may result in death.
Conditions that May Result in Falls
There are many factors and conditions that may result in falls. However, the most common ones are medication use, increasing age, impairment, sensory deficits among others. The primary risk factors associated with not only home falls but also falls in other places are poor footwear and foot pain that can cause balance disorders and difficulties with walking. In many cases, the use of sedatives, tranquilizers, and antidepressants also lead to falls. Vision problems, deficiency of Vitamin D, and body weakness are also blamed. Other fall hazards include the absence of handrails along stairs, uneven or broken steps, rug and carpets, and others.
It is essential to do the following steps to prevent fall risk:
Identify the risk. Risk identification will help to eliminate all possible hazards that may be present at home.
Assess multifactorial falls risk. It presupposes the assessment of home hazards, osteoporosis risk, visual impairment, urinary incontinence, muscle weakness, cardiovascular examination, family history, and others.
Include multifactorial interventions such as vision assessment and referral, balance and strength training, review of medication, etc. Training will assist elderly in choosing the most suitable medication that does not affect their overall health and teach how to keep balance.
Preventing Falls cont.
Eliminate home hazards and follow safety interventions. The effective assessment of home hazards may be conducted only in conjunction with safety interventions.
Make a review of psychotropic medications.
Encourage falls-prevention programs participation.
Improve health via cardiac pacing.
Collect the necessary information and educate yourself. The elderly should be aware how to cope with falls, should know psychological and physical benefits of modifying falls risk, preventive measure assisted with falls, etc.
Follow recommended interventions. They include group exercising, incontinence programs, behavioral interventions, visual impairment correction, the use of hip protectors, and others.
Risk Factors of Home Falls
Situational, intrinsic, extrinsic, and environmental factors are considered to be the most important risk determinants for healthy older persons. Intrinsic risk factors are associated with functional disability, including urinary incontinence, arthritis, cataracts, stroke, Parkinsons disease, and many others. The major risk determinants for a healthy and active elderly person may be situational and extrinsic factors. They include climbing a ladder, taking part in risky activities, hurrying, etc. In general, elderly at home may undertake numerous risky activities. Environmental risk factors for home falls include poor interior design, slippery floors, inadequate lighting, mats and carpets, lack of nonskid surfaces, and many others. However, the contribution of environmental fall-related factors depends on the situational and intrinsic factors.
Home is the place where the elderly spend much time. Therefore, many falls occur at home. The fall rate in the elderly is high. Therefore, it is essential to address this issue. Falls at home are associated with different conditions and risk factors. Also, there are numerous preventive measures that may help to safeguard elderly from falls and possible negative outcomes. It is evident that many home falls are multifactorial and result from the coincidence of situational, behavioral, intrinsic, environmental, and activity-related factors. Thus, the cost of fall are high and the consequences may be irreversible. Lastly, there is a great need in making the elderly and their families aware of all preventive measures that may safe life.